Skip to main content

Full text of "Y Cymmrodor"

See other formats

I _ 








»/ / 


A Study in Folk Culture 



Keeper of the Department of 
Folk Culture and Industries 
in the National Museum of Wales 




1 940 


1/. 17 



M.A., LL.D., F.S.A. 







This work is based on a field survey and the facts so collected 
have been supplemented by material from various written 
sources. Where it has been found possible, the evidence has 
been compared with that from other countries. The book is 
therefore for the greater part a systematic statement of facts 
actually observed in the field or collected in research. The 
accumulation of facts has led to several conclusions, but when 
theories have been put forward which cannot be proved con- 
clusively, their tentative nature — as merely working hypotheses 
which may be disproved when our knowledge is fuller — is noted 
in each case. 

It will be observed that no distribution-maps are included in 
the book. The omission is deliberate. It was felt that such 
maps would not only be useless for the purpose intended but 
might be very misleading unless every example in existence of 
the various types were marked on each map. Even then, 
such maps could only indicate the 20th-century distribution 
of the types : that is, their only value would be as a record of 
modern conditions. For example, distribution-maps of 
existing timber-framed houses or long-houses or cruck- 
constructed houses would give little indication of the former 
incidence of these types in Wales. Some critics feel that the 
value of distribution-maps in archaeological work is grossly 
over-estimated : be that as it may, it is certain that some of the 
methods adopted in archaeological research cannot be applied 
to the study of a living culture. 

No apology is needed for writing the book in English although 
an explanation may be of value. I should have preferred to 
have written it in Welsh ; but there is an increasing and 
welcome tendency amongst research-workers who are members 
of small nations to write scientific works in one or other of the 
great international languages. (The only exceptions to such 
a rule are works dealing with language and literature which 


can be of use only to those who have mastered the language 
concerned.) As an instance of this practice Folk-Liv, the 
only journal of Folk Culture in existence, is published from 
Stockholm in English, German and French. In the present 
instance, quotations in Welsh in the work have been printed, 
for the sake of accuracy and as a true record, in that language 
and translated into English. 

In the preparation of a study of this nature, any worker must 
depend to a high degree upon the co-operation of a large number 
of helpers in various directions. I acknowledge with gratitude 
the co-operation of many friends throughout Wales who in 
several ways facilitated my field-work. Sir Leonard Twiston 
Davies, K.B.E. F.S.A. (Pembrokeshire and Monmouthshire), 
Mr. W. Fergusson Irvine, M.A., F.S.A. (Merionethshire), 
Mr. J. B. Willans, F.S.A. (Montgomeryshire), Mr. E. Emrys 
Jones (Montgomeryshire), Mr. W. Gilbert Williams, M.A. 
(Caernarvonshire) and Mr. Harold Davey (Denbighshire) gave 
me every facility to visit houses in certain parts of the counties 
mentioned. The names of persons who have helped me with 
individual houses and problems are mentioned in the text and 
footnotes, but special mention must be made of Mr. Llew. 
Morgan, Ystradgynlais, who photographed a number of houses 
for me and provided me with many details concerning them ; 
Mr. Sam Ellis, Utica, New York, who has spared no trouble in 
giving me detailed descriptions of houses in north Montgomery- 
shire as he knew them in his boyhood days ; the Rev. E. Lewis 
Evans, M.A., Pontardulais ; Mr. J. J. Evans, M.A., St. 
David's ; Mr. Theodore Gibbins, Neath ; the Rev. T. Jones, 
Trecastle ; Mr. Hugh Owen, M.A., F.S.A., Llanfair-pwll ; the 
Rev. Gomer M. Roberts, Pontrhyd-y-fen ; Mr. R. D. Webb, 
Cardiff ; Mr. E. I. Williams, Whitchurch ; Mr. W. Rees 
Williams, B.Sc, Aberdare and Mrs. T. Williams, Trimsaran. 
My father's expert knowledge of rural building and of the Welsh 
countryside proved of the greatest value. 

On individual points of a technical nature, I acknowledge 
with gratitude the advice and opinions, freely given, of Dr. 
Sigurd Erixon, Stockholm ; Mr. W. F. Grimes, M.A., F.S.A., 
Southampton ; Professor Henry Lewis, M.A., D.Litt., Swansea ; 


Sir John Edward Lloyd, M.A., D.Litt., F.B.A., F.S.A. ; Pro- 
fessor Alf Sommerfelt, D.-és.-L., Oslo and of my colleague, Mr. 
W. E. Howarth, F.G.S. My colleague, Dr. F. J. North, F.G.S., 
Reeper of the Department of Geology in the National Museum 
of Wales, kindly read through the typescript of Chapter II, 
and made many suggestions and corrections. He is not 
however responsible for any errors which may still remain in it. 
Throughout the period of the survey, my friend, Professor Ifor 
Williams, M.A., D.Litt., F.B.A., F.S.A., gave his advice 
unstintingly on many linguistic problems and his ready help is 
recorded gratefully. In the same way, Sir Cyril Fox, Ph.D., 
V.P.S.A., Director of the National Museum of Wales, was 
always ready to discuss any problem which arose : I am grate- 
ful to him for advice on many matters. Most of the subjects 
treated in this volume were discussed from time to time with 
my colleague, Mr. Ffransis G. Payne, who has made many 
helpful suggestions. Miss E. H. Edwards, F.L.A., Librarian 
of the National Museum of Wales, was of the greatest service 
in securing for my use many of the books consulted, copies of 
several of which were difncult to obtain ; my debt to her is 

The greater part of the field-work was undertaken during 
vacations and week-ends : some of it was carried out during 
short periods of leave kindly granted me for that purpose by the 
Director and Council of the National Museum of Wales, who are 
also to be thanked for allowing me to reproduce a number of 
the plates. I acknowledge with gratitude the help of the 
Board of Celtic Studies of the University of Wales which made 
an annual grant over several years towards the cost of the 
survey. The following are thanked for allowing me to use 
certain illustrations and, in the cases mentioned, for lending 
blocks : the Editors of Archaeologia Cambrensis (for the blocks 
of figs. 2, 32-52, 56-7, and plates 50-3 and 71) ; Mr. Leonard 
Monroe, A.R.I.B.A. (fig. 56-7 and plate 71) ; Mr. C. W. 
Phillips, M.A., F.S.A. (fig. 2) ; Mr. Herbert Felton, 
F.R.P.S. (plate 54) and Messrs. B. T. Batsford, Ltd. (who 
generously supplied a duplicate of the block from The English 
Cottage by H. Batsford and C. Fry) ; Mr. M. F. H. Lloyd (fig. 6) 


and The Powysland Club ; Mr. B. H. St. J. O'Neil, M.A., 
F.S.A. and H.M. Office of Works (fig. 3) and the Society of 
Antiquaries (who supplied the block from The Antiguaries 
Journal, July, 1936) ; Miss M. Wight ; The Directors of the 
Gregynog Press (figs. 53-4) ; Mr. W. J. Hemp, M.A., F.S.A. 
(plates 68, 70) ; The Cambridge University Press (for lending 
the blocks of plates from The Develoỳment of English Building 
Construction by C. F. Innocent) ; H.M. Stationery Office 
(plates 11, 13, 17, 81-4) ; Mr. Ifan ab Owen Edwards, M.A. 
(plate 72 from Cymru edited by his father) and Mr. J. Watts 
(plates 57-64, photographs by his father). The Editors of 
Antiauity generously made available the sixteen blocks of the 
illustrations accompanying my paper on 'Some Welsh Houses' 
which appeared in the December 1936 issue of that journal. 

Finally, my warmest thanks are due to Mr. Llewelyn Wyn 
Griffith for his constant encouragement and to Mr. T. C. 
Hart and the printing staff of Messrs. William Lewis (Printers) 
Limited for their personal interest and co-operation in the 
production of this volume. 


March, 1940 




List of illustrations 

Chapter I. Introduction . . 

II. Building Materials 
III. The Circular House 

The Rectangular House : The Long-House 
The Rectangular House : The Cottage 
The House of the Welsh Laws 
Some Stone and Half-Timbered Houses 
Building Construction 



















Frontispiece. Bryn-mawr, Llanerfyl, Montgomeryshire. 

Photo : I. C. Peate. Copyright: National Museum of Wales. 

1. Braichmelyn, Dinas Mawddwy, Merionethshire. Note the use of 

large boulders of igneous rock in the walling. 
Photo : I. C. Peate. Copyright : National Museum of Wales. 

2. Circular pigsty, Blaen Gwenffrwd, Llanover, Monmouthshire. 
Photo : I. C. Peate. Copyright : National Museum of Wales. 

3. Circular pigsty, Hendre, Pontypridd, Glamorganshire. 
Photo : I. C. Peate. Copyright : National Museum of Wales. 

4. Circular pigsty, Penddeucae-fach, Bedlinog, Glamorganshire. 
Copyright : National Museum of Wales. 

5. Circular pigsty, The Downs, Llantwit Major, Glamorganshire. 
Photo: I. C. Peate. Copyright : National Museum of Wales. 

6. Interior of circular pigsty, The Downs, LlantwitMajor, Glamorgan- 

shire, showing the corbelling technique. 
Photo : I. C. Peate. Copyright : National Museum of Wales. 

7. Circular pigsty, Blaen-ddôl, Usk Valley, Trecastle, Brecknockshire. 
Copyright . Llew. E. Morgan. 

8. Charcoal-burners' hut, Rockley, Stainborough, Yorkshire. 
Copyright: Cambridge Unẁersity Press. (From C. F. Innocent : 

The Development of English Building Construction.) 

9. Abernodwydd, Llangadfan, Montgomeryshire, 1937. 

Photo : I. C. Peate. Copyright : National Museum of Wales. 

10. Farmhouse in the Hautes Alpes. 

11. Lan, Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire. Based on Royal Commission on 

Land in Wales: Report, p. 696, with the permission of the 
Controller of H.M. Stationery Oíîice. 

12. Tŷ'r celyn, Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire. 

13. Blaenwaun, Llansadwrn, Carmarthenshire. Based on Royal Com- 

mission on Land in Wales : Report, p. 696, with the permission 
of the Controller of H.M. Stationery Office. 

14. Cwmeilath, Llansadwrn, Carmarthenshire. 

15. Llwyn-rhys, Llanbadarn Odwyn, Cardiganshire. 
Photo: W. R.Hall. 

16. Llwyn-rhys, Llanbadarn Odwyn, Cardiganshire. 
Photo : D. J. Davies. 

17. Nant-y-ffin, Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire. Based on Royal Com- 

mission on Land in Wales : Report, p. 696, with the permission 
of the Controller of H.M. Stationery Office. 

18. Ty'ndolau, Llangeitho, Cardiganshire. 
Copyright: National Museum of Wales. 

19. Ty'n-coed uchaf, Blaencaron, Cardiganshire : front. 

Photo : I. C. Peate. Copyright : National Museum of Wales. 

20. Ty'n-coed uchaf, Blaencaron, Cardiganshire : back. 

Photo : I. C. Peate. Copyright: National Museum of Wales. 



21. Gwastod, Abermeurig, Cardiganshire. 

Photo: I. C. Peate. Copyright: National Museuni of Wales. 

22. Gwndwn, Pencader, Carmarthenshire. 

Photo: I. C. Peate. Copyright: National Museum of Wales. 

23. Coedlannau, Pencader, Carmarthenshire. 

Photo: I. C. Peate. Copyright: National Museum of Wales. 

24. Doorway, Whithen, Pencader, Carmarthenshire, leading into 

íeeding-walk. The entrance into the kitchen can be seen on 
the right. 
Photo: I. C. Peate. Copyright: National Museum of Wales. 

25. Maes-y-bidiau, Abergorlech, Carmarthenshire. 
Copyright: Llew. E. Morgan. 

26. Erw Domi, Porth-y-rhyd, Carmarthenshire. 
Copyright: Llew. E. Morgan. 

27. Hepste Fawr, Penderyn, Brecknockshire. 
Copyright: Llew. E. Morgan. 

28. Hepste Fawr, Penderyn, Brecknockshire : view from kitchen into 

Copyright: Llew. E. Morgan. 

29. Dinas Isaf, Pen-y-graig, Rhondda, Glamorganshire. 
Photo: I. C. Peate. Copyright: National Museum of Wales. 

30. Dinas Isaf, Pen-y-graig, Rhondda, Glamorganshire : view from 

kitchen-doorway into cow-house. 
Photo: I.C.Peate. Copyright: National Museum of Wales. 

31. Ciloerwynt, Dyffryn Claerwen, Radnorshire. 

Photo: I. C. Peate. Copyright: National Museum of Wales. 

32. Cefn-hirfryn, Cynghordy, Carmarthenshire. Note the kiln-room. 
Copyright: Llew. E. Morgan. 

33. Glan-'rafon, St. Harmon's, Radnorshire. 

Photo: I. C. Peate. Copyright: National Museum of Wales. 

34. Llannerch-y-cawr, Cwm Elan, Radnorshire. 

Photo: I. C. Peate. Copyright: National Museum of Wales. 

35. The deserted countryside : a view in the Brecknockshire Beacons 

upland : note the sites of two former houses and the indica- 
tions of former ploughing. 
Photo: I. C. Peate. Copyright: National Museum of Wales. 

36. Cottage, Pont-rhyd-fendigaid, Cardiganshire, 1910. 
Photo : W. R. Hall. 

37. Pensarn-mynach, Cribyn, Cardiganshire. The addition on the 

right is later. 
Photo: I. C. Peate. Copyright: National Museum of Wales. 

38. Great Mains, Llaethdy, Radnorshire. 

Photo: I. C. Peate. Copyright: National Museum of Wales. 

39. Ffynnon Goy Isaf, Llanychaer, Pembrokeshire : loft overbedroom. 
Copyright: National Museum of Wales. 

40. Paradise Cottage, Leighton, Welshpool, Montgomeryshire : crog- 

lofft entrance. 
Photo: I. C. Peate. Copyright: National Museum of Wales. 

41. Llain-wen isaf, Llanychaer, Pembrokeshire : front. 
Copyright : National Museum of Wales. 


Llain-wen isaf, Llanychaer, Pembrokeshire : back. 
Copyright : National Museum of Wales. 

43. Carn-deifog fach, Llanychaer, Pembrokeshire : the tyddyn in rela- 

tion to the moor. 
Copyright : National Museum o/ Wales. 

44. Carn-deifog isaf, Llanychaer, Pembrokeshire : interior, roof. 
Copyright : National Museum of Wales. 

45. Ty'n-rhosgadfa, Rhosgadfan, Caernarvonshire. 

Photo : I . C. Peate. Copyright : National Museum of Wales. 

46. Llainfadyn, Rhos-isaf, Caernarvonshire. 

Photo : I. C. Peate. Copyright : National Museum of Wales. 

47. Cae Rhys, near Llanuwchllyn, Merionethshire, once the home of 

Sir Owen M. Edwards. The lower door replaces a window. 
Photo : I. C. Peate. Copyright: National Museum of Wales. 

48. Bryn-mawr, Llanerfyl, Montgomeryshire : front. 

Photo: I. C. Peate. Copyright : National Museum of Wales. 

49. Cottage, St. Nicholas, Vale of Glamorgan. 

Photo: I. C. Peate. Copyright: National Museum of Wales. 

50. Gwrhyd Bach, St. David's, Pembrokeshire : recess. 

51. Llaethdy, St. David's, Pembrokeshire : interior view. 

52. Llaethdy, St. David's, Pembrokeshire : interior view. 

53. Hendre Einon, St. David's, Pembrokeshire : exterior. 
Plates 50-3 from Arch. Camb., 1902. 

54. Cottage at Selworthy, Somersetshire. 

Photo: Herbert Felton, F.R.P.S.: from H. Batsford and C. Fry : 
The English Cottage (Messrs. B. T. Batsford, Ltd.). 

55. Rhydonnen, Gellifor, Denbighshire. 

Photo : I. C. Peate. Copyright: National Museum ofWales. 

56. Galch Hill, Denbigh. 

Photo: I. C. Peate. Copyright: National Museum of Wales. 

57. Plas Uchaf, Eglwysegl, Denbighshire. 
Photo: James Watts. 

58. Lymore, Montgomery. 
Photo: James Watts. 

59. Penrhos, Montgomeryshire. 
Photo: James Watts. 

60. Trewern, Buttington, Montgomeryshire. 
Photo : James Watts. 

61 . Maes-mawr, Caersws, Montgomeryshire. 
Photo: James Watts. 

62. Penarth, near Newtown, Montgomeryshire. 
Photo: James Watts. 

63. Talgarth, Trefeglwys, Montgomeryshire. 
Photo : James Watts. 

64. Rhyd-y-carw, Trefeglwys, Montgomeryshire. 
Photo: James Watts. 

65. Cefncloddiau, Llawr-y-glyn — Staylittle district, Montgomeryshire. 
Photo: I . C. Peate. Copyright : National Museum of Wales. 



66. Timbering of a barn in south Yorkshire. 

Copyright : Cambridge Unẁersity Press (from C. F. Innocent : The 
Development of English Building Construction). 

67. Glan-y-wern, Llandyrnog, Denbighshire. 

Photo: I . C. Peate. Copyright: National Museum of Wales. 

68. Cruck constructed building, Yale district, Denbighshire. 
Photo: W. J. Hemp, M.A., F.S.A. 

69. Cruck-constructed cottage, Hawarden, Flintshire. 

Copyright : Cambridge University Press (from C. F. Innocent : The 
Derelopment of English Building Construction) . 

70. Y Gilfach, Llanfihangel-y-Pennant, Merionethshire. 
Photo: W. J. Hemp, M.A., F.S.A. 

71. Cruck construction, Lloran Ganol, Llansilin, Montgomeryshire— 
Denbighshire border. From Arch. Camb., 1933. 

72. Llwyn-rhys, Llanbadarn Odwyn, Cardiganshire : interior view of 

From Cymru, 1901, by courtesy of Ifan ab Owen Edwards, M.A. 

73. Cae Crwn, Glanmorfa, Portmadoc, Caernarvonshire. 

Copyright : Cambridge Unẃersity Press (from C. F. Innocent : The 
Development of English Building Construction). 

74. Llainfadyn, Rhos-isaf, Caernarvonshire : showing use of large 

boulders in the walling. 
Photo : I. C. Peate. Copyright : National Museum of Wales. 

75. Porch of a cottage near Waterfall Station on the Snowdon Moun- 

tain Railway, Caernarvonshire : note the dry-walling. 
Photo : I. C. Peate. Copyright : National Museum of Wales. 

76. Painted mural decoration, of early 17th-century type at Brogynin, 

Penrhyn-coch, Cardiganshire, now in the National Museum of 
Photo : I. C. Peate. Copyright: National Museum of Wales. 

77. Pitched floor, Plasau Duon, Carno, Montgomeryshire. 
Photo : I. C. Peate. Copyright : National Museum of Wales. 

78. Pitched iìoor, Pen-rhiw, Trefeglwys, Montgomeryshire. 
Photo: I. C. Peate. Copyright : National Museum of Wales. 

79. Tan-yr-ardd, Rhostryfan, Caernarvonshire : detail of roof showing 

rods tied together, surmounted by clods. 
Photo : I. C. Peate. Copyright : National Museum of Wales. 

80. Pair of interlocking ridge-tiles from Caerphilly, Glamorganshire, 

now in the National Museum of Wales. 
Copyright : National Museum of Wales. 

81. Wattling of a chimney louvre, Carmarthenshire. 

82. Thatched chimney-'pot', Carmarthenshire. 

83. Rim of clay daub appearing over thatch, Carmarthenshire. 

84. Developed wattle-and-daub chimney-pot, Carmarthenshire. 
Plates 81-4 are from the Royal Commission on Ancient Monuments 

in Wales and Monmouthshire's Inventory V : County of Carmar- 
then, by permission of the Controller of H.M. Stationery Office. 

85. Chimney-pot of wooden boards, New Quay, Cardiganshire. 
Photo: Miss M. Wight. 



S6. 'In-and-out' partitioning from Penyberth, Llŷn, Caernarvonshire, 
now in the National Museum of Wales. 
Copyright : National Museum of Wales. 


1 . A simplified geological map of Wales. 

2. Plan of circular hut at Parc Dinmor, Penmon, Anglesey. 
From Arch. Camb., 1932, p. 251. 

3. Plan of House I, Caerau, Clynnog, Caernarvonshire. 
After Antiquaries Journal, 1936, p. 301. 

4. Gaulish huts on the Antonine column. 

5. Framework of Stone Age hut, Räisälä, Finland. After Sigurd 

Erixon in Folkliv, 1937, p. 134. 

6. Plan of Abernodwydd, Llangadfan, Montgomeryshire. 
Based on plan in Mont. Coll., 1935-6, p. 85. 

7. The 'Saxon' house. 

8. Lan, Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire : ground plan. 

9. Cwmeilath, Llansadwrn, Carmarthenshire : ground plan. 

10. Blaenwaun, Llansadwrn, Carmarthenshire : ground plan. 

11. Tŷ'r celyn, Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire : ground plan. 

12. Esgair, Llansadwrn, Carmarthenshire : ground plan. 

13. Nant-y-fnn, Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire : ground plan. 

14. Ystradaman, Betws, Carmarthenshire : ground plan. 

15. Ty'ndolau, Llangeitho, Cardiganshire : ground plan. 

16. Nannerth Canol, Rhayader, Radnorshire : ground plan. 

17. Gwndwn, Pencader, Carmarthenshire : ground plan. 

18. Hepste Fawr, Penderyn, Brecknockshire : ground plan. 

19. Llannerch-y-cawr, Cwm Elan, Radnorshire : ground plan. 

20. Ciloerwynt, Dyffryn Claerwen, Radnorshire : ground plan. 

21. Pant-y-drain, Kerry, Montgomeryshire : ground plan. 

22. Map of the Llanychaer (Pembrokeshire) area, by Sir Cyril Fox. 

The open moorland and tyddynnod are shown in red. (Based 
on the Ordnance Survey Map, by permission of H.M. Stationery 
Office.) From Antiçuity, 1937, p. 429. 

23. Pensarn-mynach, Cribyn, Cardiganshire : ground plan. 

24. Great Mains, Llaethdy, Radnorshire : ground plan. 

25. Llain-wen isaf, Llanychaer, Pembrokeshire : ground plan. By Sir 

Cyril Fox. 

26. Llain-wen isaf, Llanychaer, Pembrokeshire : longitudinal section. 

By Sir Cyril Fox. 

27. Llain-wen isaf, Llanychaer, Pembrokeshire : cross-section. By Sir 

Cyril Fox. 

28. Carn-deifog isaf, Llanychaer, Pembrokeshire : sketch plan of 

tyddyn. By Sir Cyril Fox. 

29. Ty'n-rhosgadfa, Rhosgadfan, Caernarvonshire : ground plan. 

30. Bryn-mawr, Llanerfyl, Montgomeryshire : ground plan. 

31. Cottage, Rhos-isaf, Caernarvonshire : ground plan. 

32. Farmhouse, Strata Florida, Cardiganshire : ground plan. 




33. Farmhouse, Strata Florida, Cardiganshire : exterior. 

34. Farmhouse, Strata Florida, Cardiganshire : exterior. 

35. Farmhouse, Strata Florida, Cardiganshire : interior. 

36. Farmhouse, Strata Florida, Cardiganshire : interior showing fire- 

Figs. 32-6 from Arch. Camb., 1899. 

37. Typical ground plan of farmhouse at St. David's, Pembrokeshire. 

38. Llaethdy, St. David's, Pembrokeshire : cross-section. 

39. Porch and doorway, Llaethdy, St. David's, Pembrokeshire. 

40. Round chimney, Llaethdy, St. David's, Pembrokeshire. 

41. Llaethdy, St. David's, Pembrokeshire : ground plan. 

42. Llaethdy, St. David's, Pembrokeshire : exterior view. 

43. Porth-mawr, St. David's, Pembrokeshire : ground plan. 

44. Porth-mawr, St. David's, Pembrokeshire : exterior view. 

45. Clegyr Foea, St. David's, Pembrokeshire : exterior view. 

46. Rhoson Uchaf, St. David's, Pembrokeshire : exterior view. 

47. Rhoson Uchaf, St. David's, Pembrokeshire : front. 

48. Trefeiddan, St. David's, Pembrokeshire : exterior view. 

49. Trefeiddan, St. David's, Pembrokeshire : detail of front. 

50. Trefeiddan, St. David's, Pembrokeshire : doorway. 

51. Hendre Einon, St. David's, Pembrokeshire : fireplace. 

52. Pwllcaerog, St. David's, Pembrokeshire : exterior. 
Figs. 37-52 from Arch. Camb., 1902. 

53. Bachelldre, Churchstoke, Montgomeryshire. 

From a woodcut by R. A. Maynard, by courtesy of The Gregynog 

54. Lack, Churchstoke, Montgomeryshire. 

From a woodcut by R. A. Maynard, by courtesy of The Gregynog 

55. Cruck at Hafod Ysbyty, Merionethshire. 
After G. J. Williams : Hanes Plwyf Ffestiniog. 

56. Cruck at Lloran Ganol, Llansilin, Denbigbshire. 
From Arch. Camb., 1933. 

57. Truss at Plas Ucha, Llangar, Merionethshire. 
From Arch. Camb., 1933. 

58. Floor designs, Solva, Pembrokeshire, 1908. 



Folk Culture as a subject for serious scientiíìc research has 
only recently come into its own in this island and that, to a 
high degree, only in Wales. It follows that most of the problems 
relating to the cultural development of the British peoples 
have been looked upon as topics either subordinate to aspects 
of political or economic history or as 'bygones' elucidating the 
study of prehistoric archaeology. The miscellaneous collections 
of 'bygones' in so many national and provincial museums, 
displayed as appendages to archaeological research and the 
complete neglect of Folk Culture in all our universities are proof 
of this neglect of the subject as an independent science. 

The 'dependent existence' to quote Professor Sigurd Eri^on 1 
of Folk Culture 'as an ambulating guest of certain branches of 
science' down to our own time has resulted in difficulties which 
have now become almost insuperable but which did not exist 
even fifty years ago. The unparalleled development of what 
has been aptly called the Machine Age, and the application 
to social needs of scientific invention in all its branches have 
resulted in a metamorphosis of country life to a degree beyond 
comparison with the growth of civilization in any other age. 
The development of transport has put the most inaccessible 
moorland village within the reach of populous areas : the 
mechanisation of industry, agriculture in particular, has caused 
the overthrow of many traditional methods : the centralization 
of authority both in marketing and in local government has 
resulted in a phenomenal change in the social economy of the 
countryside. Side by side with these factors in the trans- 
figuration of our rural life must be considered the growth of 
education and a quickening social consciousness which have 
resulted in the improvement of the countryman's living 
conditions and in the large-scale abandonment both of methods 

1 Folkliv, I, 1937, p. 5. 


of labour and of houses and outbuildings which could only be 
described as primitive. While all these developments have been 
in varying degrees beneficial, their cumulative effect for the 
student of Folk Culture was to destroy a mass of evidence of 
the greatest importance in unravelling the story of our 
traditional culture. 

This is in no way better exemplified than by the changes 
affecting houses in Wales. Down to the last decade of the 
19th century, Government Blue Boolcs and other authoritative 
sources contain descriptions of houses of a most primitive 
character in the Welsh countryside. But in the present century 
most of these houses have disappeared completely. In another 
chapter, it will be seen how it has been impossible to discover 
in the past few years a type of house described in detail as 
existing in 1893. 1 Country landlords of large estates, conscious 
of their social duties to their tenants, have carried out extensive 
schemes of rebuilding farmhouses or of restoring them to such a 
degree that their traditional features have been completely 
eliminated. The progress made in sanitary and similar laws — 
although much remains to be accomplished 2 — has made 
necessary the reconstruction of hundreds of houses. A less 
pleasant feature of this transformation in country housing 
was the introduction, principally after the European War 
1914-18, of 'council houses'. In many instances these replaced 
old cottages which were native to their environment however 
much their internal accommodation could be criticized. The 
new houses however seem too of ten to conform to a standardized 
pattern adopted indiscriminately by local authorities without 
thought for the particular requirements of their own areas. 
There are notable exceptions, but it is unfortunately true that 
in many areas, the new housing schemes have no regard for 
'decency' in architecture nor is any serious attention paid to 
the relationship of houses to their environment. 

This deplorable attitude, so well illustrated in modern 
housing schemes, is not an entirely new factor in the history of 

1 See p. 48. 

* See the Report of the Committee of Inguiry into the Anti-Tuberculosis 
Service in Wales and Monmouthshire (1939). 


Welsh housing. During the 19th century, evictions for political 
reasons and emigration to America and to the industrial areas 
of south Wales, together with the effects of the enclosure 
movement, resulted in many districts in large numbers of 
farmhouses and cottages becoming untenanted. A contem- 
porary obser^er 1 in the parish of Llanbrynmair, Montgomery- 
shire, lists as many as 106 such houses which became unoccupied 
in that parish within his own memory. That this should happen 
at a time — the mid 19th-century — when a general vitiation of 
good taste in architecture was apparent was nothing short of a 
tragedy. The result, later in the century, was the building of 
a large number of houses distinguished only by their lack of 
decency in design and of good taste in materials. Judging by 
the widespread distribution in Wales of houses of the second 
half of the 19th century, this development in building must have 
been almost universal. Coinciding as it did with the develop- 
ment of rail transport and the production in great quantities 
of Welsh slates and of red and yellow pressed bricks 2 it changed 
the whole character of the Welsh countryside and created for 
Welsh villages, in particular, a reputation of unattractive 
ugliness which many of them deserve. The unintelligent use 
of such materials as corrugated-iron, in the present century, 
completed the tragedy. 

The student of the Welsh house has therefore to work under 
serious disadvantages. Much of the material has been destroyed 
and much so tampered with as to be valueless. The original 
material with which he is concerned — the traditional types — 
outcrops only here and there from beneath a deep stratum of a 
later overlying culture. So extensive is this layer that some 
students have maintained from time to time that Wales has no 
architecture. Since this view is fundamental to the subject 
of this book — the Welsh House — it must be examined here. 

Wales is a country of high undulating moorland and of deep 
valleys, with a consistently high rainfall. Until recent times 
it has had no large cities or towns. Its community has always 

1 Peate, David : Hen Ffyrdd a Hen Dai adfeiliedig Llanbrynmair (in 
MSS.), 1887. 

2 See Chapter II. 


been essentially peasant in character. For the last three 
hundred years it has had no separate political existence and its 
social and economic life therefore has been linked with that of 
England, which is not separated from it by any natural 
boundary. These, in brief, are the important factors in 
assessing Welsh architectural attainment. A wet moorland 
does not lend itself to the development of architectural forms 
based on the rich cultures of the sunny Mediterranean. A city- 
less peasant community does not foster the erection of noble 
public buildings. A nation bereft of its sovereignty cannot 
promote the growth of the fìne arts except by indirect and 
generally innocuous means. In such a country, incorporated 
moreover since 1536 in a neighbouring virile state, the only 
national architecture is peasant architecture. In the 18th and 
19th centuries when the professional architect had emerged as 
a necessary member of most European communities, his 
influence in Wales was felt only on the houses of the rich and 
on the public buildings of the prosperous towns and cities. But 
the rich in Wales were almost universally anglicized and the 
prosperous towns were those of the industrial areas which 
were then breaking away from the traditional Welsh peasant 
culture to become anglicized but deraciné areas. There was no 
incentive or need for a school of professional architects in the 
Welsh rural community. Consequently the mansions of the 
country squires and the buildings of the anglicized towns are 
almost without exception English in inspiration, but mildly 
conditioned at times by the particular needs of their environ- 
ment. And when the time came for the erection of national 
structures on a grand scale, most of them found a home in the 
new city of Cardiff, others in Aberystwyth and Bangor and 
Swansea, but all conforming to a well-established classical 
tradition and divorced in conception, design and materials 
from the unpretentious architecture of the traditional Welsh 
community. In this respect, it is true to say that there is no 
Welsh architecture. Such buildings indeed are the work of 
Welsh- or English-bom architects working in a supra-national 
tradition which has not found a peculiar Welsh expression. 

Is there then such an expression in any Welsh building ? 


The answer is to be found in the dwelling-houses of the Welsh 
folk. Tn peasant architecture the fundamental issues in 
building are made more clearly apparent. Social, climatic 
and geographical conditions all combine to produce an architec- 
ture in which fashion or style play little or no part. The 
primitive need for shelter from the sun and rain induces the 
peasant folk to build shelter for themselves and their cattle. 
There are no architects. The peasant knows his wants and 
builds. With his meagre resources he builds as simply as 
possible in the local material available. He is able to conceive 
and create his work because of the simplicity of his life and 
needs. It is a clear expression of his life, simple and direct. . . . 
The abstract and purely aesthetic beauty of a column, the 
decorative effect of a frieze are outside his comprehension. A 
plain white wall, a dark window-opening, a red-tiled roof, 
these he understands not for their aesthetic but for their 
practical value. Utility comes first. Beauty follows, resulting 
naturally from the constructive elements and the colour and 
texture of the materials.' 1 

The Welsh house — be it farmhouse or cottage — is therefore 
an expression of Welsh life — indeed, a facet of it, for the peasant 
life is always indivisible. It follows therefore that the folk 
dwelling varies according to the climatic and geographical 
conditions of the locality in which it is found and also according 
to the social condition of its occupant or builder and his 
economic status. In the same way 'true peasant architecture 
knows no time : it represents the past, present and future.' 2 
The creation of new social and economic conditions such as have 
been indicated on the preceding pages has resulted in a desire 
for the amelioration of peasant life and for the creation of 
styles artificially governed. As in every aspect of folk life, this 
departure from the natural or the traditional to the artificial 
has resulted in a betrayal of the normal decencies of the 
countryside. But the betrayal is an unconscious one and 
education in the value of the old tradition and in the methods 

1 Ling, A. G. : 'Peasant Architecture in the Northern Provinces of 
Spain' in Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects, 1936, p. 845. 

2 Ibid., p. 846. 


of developing it to suit present social needs will provide the only 
solution for the present 'desecration of the countryside' which 
many deplore but which some only criticize unintelligently. 

This book is the story of a long pilgrimage extending over a 
period of twelve years. It has been of a dual nature : on the 
one hand wanderings through the thirteen counties of Wales 
in search of the houses to be described on the following pages. 
Many of the journeys were fruitless and all too frequently it was 
found that the houses searched for had disappeared or been 
replaced by new buildings. An example may be quoted. 
Llwyn-rhys, 1 near Llangeitho, Cardiganshire, was photographed 
before the 1914-18 war by the late W. R. Hall of Aberystwyth. 
The photograph shows a long-house of great interest. Through 
great good fortune the house was examined shortly afterwards 
by Mr. W. J. Hemp, M.A. F.S.A., who pronounced it to be of 
15th-century date, with a 17th-century addition built to 
serve as the fìrst Nonconformist Meeting House in Cardigan- 
shire. The house had a thatched roof. It was again photo- 
graphed by Mr. D. J. Davies, of Lampeter, when it had a cor- 
rugated-iron roof. I visited the district in 1930 to make a 
detailed survey and plan of this important structure, but to my 
consternation discovered that it had completely disappeared. 
This is what had happened : during the last years of the war, 
corrugated-iron sheeting became scarce. The owner of the 
now-uninhabited Llwyn-rhys after valiant attempts (unfor- 
tunately directed to the wrong quarter) to have the house 
scheduled as an ancient monument, stripped the sheeting 
which he required for other purposes from the roof. The rain 
penetrated through the leaky thatch and completely ruined the 
mud walls which fell in. The timbering which endangered 
the farm stock was then pulled down and in this way one of the 
most important historical monuments in Cardiganshire dis- 
appeared for all time. 

This is not an isolated example. In a large number of 
instances, I have followed in the wake of destruction of this 
nature, much of it thoughtless and unnecessary. In some 

1 See pp. 78-9. 


other instances, my visits were providential. Bryn-mawr, 
Llanerfyl (see p. 118), visited in the summer of 1938, appeared 
to be secure for many years. It was occupied by a young 
farmer and his family and had the appearance of a snug and 
comfortable — although isolated — dwelling. A month or two 
after my visit, its occupants had left and the house abandoned : 
it is likely that its fate will be that of several other homesteads 
in the locality. It will never again be occupied. 

This desertion of the open moorland — indeed in many cases, 
of the countryside — was one of the outstanding facts made 
obvious during the course of the survey. 'Of eighteen cottages 
visited and measured at Llanychaer [Pembrokeshire] . . . only 
three were still inhabited : it is still more significant that of the 
fifteen unoccupied cottages, seven had been deserted within 
the last few ^-ears. That this refusal of a traditional mode of 
life is primarily due to primitive conditions in the cottages 
is improbable : rather, it is the croft system that has broken 
down in the area. We must suppose that the life is too hard, 
the rewards too slight, the inconveniences of isolation too 
manifest. The croft cannot today yield a "li^ing".' 1 This 
movement from the countryside is however, as has been 
stressed, continuous from the 19th century (see pp. 99-100). 
In 1899, a writer notes conceming a neighbouring district of 
north Pembrokeshire : 'Peth dynnai fy sylw oedd nifer mawr o 
fythynod a mân dyddynod wedi syrthio . . . Cyfrifais tros 
ddeugain'. [What drew my attention was the large number of 
ruined cottages. ... I counted over forty.] 2 Unfortunately in 
such areas as Llanychaer, in the Vale of Glamorgan, in Llŷn, 
in Monmouthshire, in Merionethshire and in Cardiganshire, 
the destructive 'march of Time' has been hastened by the action 
of the British Defence Ministries which have occupied so many 
areas of rural Wales. The wanton and unintelligent destruction 
by the Air Ministry of Penyberth in Llýn, a house with 15th- 
century features, and with strong historical associations, is 
well-known. The timbering was hacked down and sold for 

1 Fox, Sir Cyril : 'Peasant Crofts in North Pembrokeshire', in 
Antiquity, 1937, p. 439. 
2 Cymru, 1899, II, p. 112. 


firewood. Providentially, a neighbouring farmer acquired 
examples of the earlier features and through his generosity a 
wooden window-head and a length of oak panelling, both of 
late 15th-century date, are now in the National Museum of 
Wales. The Ministries have since come to an arrangement 
with the Museum whereby the Museum authorities examine 
the sites before they are 'developed', with a view to the preser- 
vation of antiquities. This is however little solace to a nation 
whose rural amenities and traditional culture are ruthlessly 
assailed by such 'developments'. 

There is much to be said — if we wish to assess the extent of 
the survival in modern times of old types — for a careful survey 
of the distribution of every type of house in Wales, and the 
preparation of detailed distribution-maps of all such types, 
with measured plans and descriptions of each variation. It 
became obvious to me that such a survey was beyond the 
ability of a Museum official worlcing on his own with but a few 
short weeks each summer in which to do the work. Indeed, 
most of the work on which this volume is based was carried 
out during short annual summer vacations sacrificed for this 
purpose. Such detailed surveying, parish by parish, is essential 
and will be carried out, if circumstances permit, over many 
years. But it was felt that this study should not be delayed 
until such work had been completed. By traversing every 
county enough information has been obtained to justify the 
present publication of a study of Welsh houses. The subsequent 
careful plotting of types will no doubt correct certain details 
but the main principles have thus been determined. It is 
hoped therefore that this work will induce other workers to 
assist in detailed surveys of their own areas to secure the 
plotting of minutiae beyond the scope of this volume. 

The second aspect of the 'pilgrimage' involved an exhaustive 
study of references to Welsh houses in literature and in manu- 
script sources. The starting-point for such a study had to be 
the monumental Report of the Royal Commission on Land in 
Wales. Its exhaustive section on farm-dwellings and its 
Bibliography, both the work of Sir Daniel Lleufer Thomas, 
M.A., LL.D., F.S.A., have been invaluable in the preparation 


of this work. It was the present author's good fortune to come 
into close contact with Sir Lleufer in 1926 and it was on his 
advice and with his encouragement that this work was begun. 1 
Sir Lleufer's breadth of vision and scholarship, discernible in 
every field of Welsh historical research, was nowhere more 
evident than in his careful record of farmhouses and cottages 
and his descriptions, always marked by scientific accuracy, of 
their structure and economy. No less important in every 
respect is Sir Lleufer's less-known work included in the Reỳort 
on the Agricultural Labourer in Wales, one of the publications 
of the Royal Commission on Labour. 

Contemporary descriptions of houses in Wales are unfor- 
tunately not numerous. Many of the English travellers of the 
late 18th- early 19th centuries have contented themselves with 
dismissing the subject with phrases such as 'miserable hovels'. 
Occasionally, however, detailed descriptions are given. While 
it is well-known that most of the travellers who 'discovered' 
Wales at that period were deplorably ignorant of Welsh life 
and history which they therefore delineated in a prejudiced 
and garbled fashion, it is obvious too that where their descrip- 
tions depended on personal observation they are generally 
accurate. Consequently, it was found necessary to read 
through the voluminous literature of that period about Wales 
in English as well as all available references in Welsh. For the 
English works the exhaustive lists in the appendices to Mr. 
W. J. Hughes's Wales and the Welsh in English Literature 
formed a basis for my reading. The task was arduous and long. 
For the early 19th century too, the Report of the Commission 
on the State of Education in Wales (1847) and several other Blue 
Books gave many details. A complete bibliography of the 
relevant literary sources consulted is printed at the end of this 

1 The work took definite shape after a discussion in 1934 between 
Dr. Âke Campbell and Professor C. von Sydow of Sweden, Mr. Séamas Ô 
Duilearga of Eire, and the writer. Dr. Campbell's own work on the 
Irish house has been a valuable example in preparing this volume. 


Building Materials 

The use and character of building materials in folk architecture 
can never be determined completely by one factor, although 
from time to time some writers have tended to emphasize 
certain factors at the expense of others. It has already been 
stressed 1 that the peasant builds as simply as possible in the 
local material available, but the nature of that material varies 
in most districts. The variation depends upon many circum- 
stances amongst which may be mentioned geographical position, 
climate, height above sea level, soil and topography, geological 
conditions and the tractability of the materials available. It 
is intended here to discuss the materials used in Wales in 
relation to such factors as these. 

Wales forms a part of the Highland Zone of western Britain. 2 
It may be looked upon as an upland fortress on the edge of a 
lowland extending from the English Plain to the Ural 
Mountains. Over this 'sea of lowland' the tides of centuries 
have swept to break upon the fortress of the west. Wales 
has often been compared with Palestine : there are directions 
in which the comparison can be made. Much of the life of the 
Holy Land has been conditioned by that of the Syrian Desert 
beyond. Wales can be understood only by reference to the 
lowlands beyond its eastern fringe. 

We are concerned therefore with an upland country of moor 
and mountain beyond a vast lowland area; an upland, too, that 
has become the 'refuge' of ancient racial types, of bygone cus- 
toms and forgotten things. This moorland plateau has been 
dissected by rivers flowing north, east, south and west in deep- 
cut ravines and broad valleys which radiate from the upland 
like the spokes of a mighty wheel. One of the principal effects 


2 For a survey of the signifìcance of the Highland Zone in prehistoric 
and early historic times see Fox, Sir Cyril : The Personality of Britain 
(Third Èdit., 1938). 



of this dissection, indeed of the geological formation of the 
country to which we shall refer later, has been to emphasize its 
highland character and to weaken its geographical unity. It 
has resulted in the creation of isolated communities dotted over 
the Welsh massif and around its fringes — to a high degree 
separated from each other by natural boundaries, deep valleys, 
high mountains and broad tracts of boggy moorland but united 
by an ancient culture and language. 'Continuity and per- 
sistence are remarkable features of the life of Wales.' 1 

To continue the simile, Wales opens most of its doors in a 
westerly direction. Its rivers, from the north around the 
western rim of the massif to the south, flow away from the 
eastern lowland ; but several important rivers run north- 
eastwards, eastwards and south-eastwards. The entrances 
into Wales from the east, some of which are formed by the 
valleys of these rivers, must therefore not be overlooked. The 
upland plateau shaped almost like an hourglass is fringed, north 
and south, with tongues of lowland. In the north the present 
railway route from Chester to Holyhead indicates the extent 
of the lowland strip. In the south is the coastal plain of 
southern Monmouthshire and the Vale of Glamorgan with the 
estuaries of the Tawe and Tywi beyond, the lowland ending in 
'Little England beyond Wales', again the route of east to west 
rail communication from London. In central Wales the broad 
valley of the upper Severn opens up the midland area of the 
Welsh massif to provide another cross-country railway route 
while the Dee 'cleft' at Llangollen and the projections of low- 
land occupied by the upper Wye and the Usk make inroads into 
the uplands. 

These topographical features are of the greatest importance 
in any consideration of human culture in Wales. They help 
to clarify the reasons for the 'continuity of cultural character' 
on the one hand and 'the power of absorption, the tendency to 
fusion' in Wales, on the other. Both these characteristics are 
exemplifìed in the history of the Welsh house. 

The climate of Wales is maritime, with mild winters and 

1 Fleure, H. J., in Arch. Camb., 1923, p. 241. 


cool summers. 'This character is most pronounced in the 
coastal districts, particularly in the west, where severe frosts 
and snow are comparatively rare. More rigorous conditions 
prevail in the upland regions, and the higher mountains are 
frequently capped with snow during the winter and early 
spring months. The rainfall is closely related to the surface- 
relief . . . The highest mean annual rainfall is about 200 in. 
near the peak of Snowdon. A considerable area in north 
Wales receives a rainfall of over 100 in. per annum . . . Typically, 
the Welsh climate is distinguished by an equable temperature, 
abundant and well-distributed rainfall, and a generally humid 
atmosphere. In the lowlands, frost occurs only occasionally . . . 
The climate of the uplands is more rigorous, but the proximity 
of the sea and the prevalence of mild south-westerly winds 
mitigate its severity. Although the rainfall is considerably 
higher in the uplands than in the lowlands, the shallow 
character of the soils intensifies the effect of drought, which 
actually becomes a limiting factor in the growth of grass and 
determines a heathy type of ^egetation.' 1 For 1894 as much 
as 131-05 in. of rainfall were recorded at certain stations in 
Montgomeryshire, 100-8 in. in Caernarvonshire, 107-51 in. in 
Merionethshire and 100-61 in. in Glamorganshire, as compared 
with 24-55 in. in Flintshire and 25-65 in. in Denbighshire. 2 
These late 19th-century figures are quoted as indicative of the 
end of the period with which we are principally concerned but 
the variation in rainfall from period to period in recent times 
is slight, the average rainfall over the British Isles during the 
years 1901-30 being 103% of that of the period 1870-99. 3 

Excessive rainfall, such as falls over the greater part of the 
Welsh upland, has an important bearing both on agriculture 
and on the general life and habits of the people. Together 
with the surface conditions in the highland area it limits arable 
farming and encourages pastoral farming : it affects the dis- 

1 Robinson, G. W. : The Soils of Wales' in Guide Book for the Excur- 
sion round Britain of the Third International Congress of Soil Science 
(1935), pp. 260-2. 

2 Royal Commission on Land in Wales: Report, p. 28. 

3 British Rainfall, 1937, p. 277. 


tribution of population and is an important factor in the history 
of building. Nor must other related factors be overlooked : 
the great amount of cloud, the absence of sunshine and the 
constancy of winds which are all climatic factors, have their 
effect upon housing. 

But in any consideration of factors affecting housing and, in 
particular, building materials, the geology of any area is of 
outstanding importance. Geology provides the clue to most 
local materials available for use in construction. 'The style of a 
national architecture' to quote Ruslcin, 1 'may evidently depend 
in a great measure upon the rocks of the country.' A treatment 
of the physique of Wales is therefore not adequate in itself, 
important though it is to illustrate conditions which modify 
the use of certain materials. It should be clearly understood 
too that geological 'districts' bear no relation to county 
boundaries and that these must therefore be ignored in con- 
sidering house-types. 

The superficial observer in these days of swift transport by 
road and rail may wonder why any great stress is laid upon 
local geology. The fact is of course that, as we have already 
indicated, the peasant 'builds as simply as possible in the 
local material available'. The last fifty years have witnessed 
a revolutionary change in this direction. The development of 
transport (in association with other causes such as the increase 
of mass-production and the social amelioration referred to in 
Chapter I) has made the local builder independent of local 
materials. Bricks are often found to be cheaper than stone 
quarried locally, even when transport costs are included. 
Corrugated-iron has ousted timber, and asbestos the native 
slate or tile. 

Consequently for the first time in the long history of peasant 
building in Wales, the builder is no longer dependent upon the 
local material available. This change, as I have indicated, is 
revolutionary. It has dealt tradition a death-blow from 
which it may never recover. Traditional lay-outs and plans 
often conditioned by the nature of the materials used, have 

1 John Ruslcin in Stones of Venice, quoted in J. Allen Howe : The 
Geology of Building Stones (1910), p. 2. 


been discarded and traditional techniques and methods for- 
gotten. Furthermore the end of this dependence upon local 
materials is the basic cause of the widespread bad taste in 
modern building — to be seen in the use of materials unsuitable 
for the areas concerned (e.g. pressed brick of a violent colour 
in grey-stone countrysides remarkable for their half-tones) 
and in the absence of the craftsman's skill in building and the 
craftsman's restraint in design, which so often happens when 
craftsmen abandon tradition 1 and have to handle new materials 
demanding a new technique. This transition converging 
upon the social developments referred to in Chapter I was 
undoubtedly the primary reason for the widespread transforma- 
tion of the Welsh countryside in the late 19th-century. 

The following treatment of the geological factors is mainly 
stratigraphical and it may be argued with much validity that a 
lithological treatment would be more pertinent. The writer is 
aware of this need. But such a study can only be undertaken 
by a competent geologist. Furthermore it would need a 
systematic collection of building stones actually used in every 
parish, studied by a geologist in relation to the lithology of 
Wales. It is surprising that such work has not long since been 
undertaken since it would form a valuablejjcontribution to the 
economic geology of Wales. It is to be hoped that when such 
projects as the Soil Map of Wales have been completed, such 
tasks as a lithological survey from the point of view of building 
materials will be undertaken also. The students of anthropo- 
logy and history cannot be expected to fill this gap in our 

In view of this difference between stratigraphy and lithology, 
the description in this chapter of the geology of Wales should be 
considered in the light of the following note, kindly supplied by 
Dr. F. J. North, F.G.S. : The adaptability of a stone for 
building purposes depends upon its lithological characters, e.g., 
its hardness and durability, and the development of planes of 
weakness such as bedding, jointing and cleavage, that may 

1 For craft deterioration of a similar nature in another field see the 
author's Y Crefftwr yng Nghymru (1933), p. 32. 


facilitate the quarrying and dressing of the stone, or may, on 
the other hand, render it useless for constructional work. For 
some purposes, where a freestone is needed, softer stone with 
well-spaced planes of weakness is suitable. 

These lithological and structural characteristics are inde- 
pendent of the age of the rock and similar types may occur in 
stratigraphical series of widely different ages, and taking the 
Welsh rocks as a whole, the various rock-types enumerated are 
distributed as follows : — 

(a) Hard massive rocks without pronounced structures are 
characteristic of the Pre-Cambrian Series, and of certain 
types of igneous rock of Ordovician Age. 

(b) Hard rocks with more or less pronounced joints and 
bedding planes, are present in all the formations repre- 
sented in Wales, although they are absent over consider- 
able areas : examples are the quartzites of the Pre- 
Cambrian and the Millstone Grit ; the sandstones of 
Silurian, Old Red Sandstone, and Carboniferous Age ; 
the grits of the Cambrian and Silurian Systems ; 
limestones of the Llandeilo and Llandovery Series, the 
Carboniferous Limestone and the Lias. 

(c) Fissile sandstone, for tiles and paving in the uppermost 
Silurian beds, the Old Red Sandstone, and the Pennant 

(d) Slate locally in the Cambrian, Ordovician and Silurian. 

(e) Softer sandstone and limestone for freestone in the 
Carboniferous Sandstones of North Wales, the Trias, the 
Rhaetic Series and the Lias. 

(/) Relatively soft sandstones and conglomerates in the Trias. 
(g) Marls, shales and clay for brick-making in the Old 

Red Sandstone Marls, the Upper Carboniferous Shales, 

the Trias and in certain alluvial clays. 
(h) Limestones for mortar are locally developed in most of 

the formations in Wales, e.g., even in the Old Red Marls 

there are impersistent beds of impure limestone. 
In many parts of Wales the "solid" rocks are masked by a 
covering of superficial deposits of alluvial or glacial origin. 


The alluvial deposits yield no building material except clay, but 
the glacial deposits often contain large or small boulders of 
roclcs of types not native to the locality where they now occur. 
In such cases the available building material would have no 
relation whatever to the rocks that would be indicated on the 
"solid" geological map.' 

The 'solid' geological map of Wales (fìg. 1) reveals the follow- 
ing principal features : — 

1. Three areas of Pre-Cambrian rocks. These are : 

(a) Anglesey. Here is an extensive tract of Pre- 
Cambrian rocks — the Mona Complex — consisting of 
gneisses overlaid with a bedded series through both of 
which plutonic intrusives were thrust at a later period. 
This area also has Ordovician rocks laid down directly 
on the Mona Complex, small areas of sandstone, and 
Carboniferous Limestone cropping out over a quarter of 
the island area. 

(b) The Llŷn Peninsula. Rocks closely similar to the 
Pre-Cambrian rocks of Anglesey appear in the south-west 
of the Llŷn Peninsula between Nefyn and Bardsey Island, 
constituting a 'complex' consisting of the three main 
groups of rocks recognized in the Mona Complex, whose 
outcrops are separated by Ordovician deposits. These are, 
however, so well covered with drift that in general their 
contribution to the local geological 'control' of building 
material is therefore reduced. There are also important 
outcrops of igneous and volcanic rocks in the Arfon- 
Snowdonia district and also in the Cader Idris area. 

(c) A comparatively small area of north-west Pem- 
brokeshire, particularly in the neighbourhood of St. 
David's. Here there are volcanic and plutonic rocks, 
the former consisting of variously-coloured tuffs with 
interbedded flows of lava and the plutonic intrusions 
consisting of such igneous rocks as granite, quartz- 
porphyry, etc, and also Ordovician rocks of volcanic 





Fig. 1 A simplified geological map of Wales 


2. Three areas of Cambrian rocks. These are : 

(a) The Harlech Dome. This is 'the grandest mass of 
Cambrian rocks to be seen in Britain : they form a barren 
and desolate tract almost without habitation, with high, 
rugged, block-like mountains where thick ban s of grit 
and conglomerate come to the surface. Sweeping round 
the Lower Cambrian rocks that form the centre of the 
Dome, the Middle and Upper Cambrian rocks from 
Criccieth to Cader Idris crop out in successive arcs.' 1 

(b) That part of Caernarvonshire which is separated 
from the Harlech Dome by the Ordovician rocks of 
Snowdon — the Bethesda-Llanberis-Nantlle-Pen-y-groes 

(c) Pembrokeshire, where the Cambrian rocks occupy a 
larger area than do the Pre-Cambrian. 

3. The moorland plateau of Wales extending from the 
Denbighshire moors to Carmarthenshire and north 
Pembrokeshire. This is a vast tract of Ordovician and 
Silurian rocks. In the Geological Map of Wales the 
Ordovician is bounded on the east by a prolonged band of 
Silurian rocks. These are found over the greater part 
of the Denbighshire moors and continue in a narrow belt 
in the Corwen-Llanuwchllyn district, separating the 
Ordovician dome of the Berwyn Hills from the western 
Ordovician tract. (It should be noted too that there is 
an important slate region between Corwen and Llan- 
gollen.) The Silurian belt widens southwards into the 
highland of central Montgomeryshire and continues on 
the east over eastern Radnorshire narrowing again across 
Brecknockshire into the Tywi Valley, appearing again 
in small areas of Pembrokeshire. This line represents in 
certain areas a lithological boundary of importance, as 
will be seen later. In the present century however it 

1 Smith, B. and George, T. N. : British Regional Geology : North Wales 
(1935), p. 20. 


has been shown 1 that Silurian rocks are widely dis- 
tributed in the region, covering the larger part of Car- 
diganshire and north Carmarthenshire. The Ordovician 
and Silurian tracts consist mainly of shales, slate, mud- 
stones, limestones, sandstones and conglomerates. 
4. Two areas of 'sandstone' : they are : 

(a) The Devonian system known as the Old Red Sand- 
stone which extends from the English borderland through 
Monmouthshire and Brecknockshire (where it assumes a 
monumental aspect) into a thin sliver projecting into the 
Carmarthen Bay and extending into south Pembroke- 
shire. It is a projection into Wales of great human 
importance of a rock which has profoundly influenced 
architecture in Britain. It should be noted that the 
term 'sandstone' however is here misleading to the 
uninitiated since Marls make up an important and, in 
some areas, the principal part of the Old Red Sandstone 
formation (see p. 28). 

(b) The Vale of Clwyd. The whole of the basin which 
forms the Vale of Clwyd is composed of new red sandstone 
[Trias] but around its edges there runs a thin band of . . . 
carboniferous limestone which crops up most prominently 
in the Eyarth Rocks in Llanelidan parish. It is also the 
chief geological feature of the Yale district . . . We have 
here "a piece of England let down . . . like a wedge amidst 


the more massive and ancient rocks, a remarkable 
fragment of genuine English scenery, a rich plain of new 
red sandstone beautifully wooded and watered and 
diversified by park-like slopes".' 2 Geologically, the 
Vale of Clwyd is a piece of Cheshire-like scenery let down 
into the Silurian system in Wales. 
5. The coalfields of south and north Wales : 

(a) South Wales. The Coal Measures extend from the 
Bryn-mawr-Pontypool district across Glamorganshire to 

1 See for instance British Regional Geology : North Wales and British 
Regional Geology : South Wales. 

2 Thomas, [Sir] D. Lleufer : The Agricultural Labourer in Wales (1893) 
p. 113. 


the Llanelly-Ridwelly area of Carmarthenshire and 
thence in a narrow band across Pembrokeshire. 'Over 
the greater part . . . the Pennant sandstone occupies the 
surface, and that rock is responsible for the smooth 
rounded hills so characteristic of the coalfìeld scenery.' 1 
Encircling the Coal Measures are the outcrops of Mill- 
stone Grit and Carboniferous Limestone while the Vale 
of Glamorgan on the south of the coalfìeld shows large 
expanses of Keuper Marl and Lias. 

(6) North Wales. The coalfìelds of Flintshire and 

Denbighshire present essentially the same features as 

those of the southern coalfield — Coal Measures, 'Mill- 

stone Grit' and Carboniferous Limestone flanked on the 

east by the Trias and on the west by the Silurian of the 

Clwydian Hills. 

The general morphology of Wales therefore indicates this 

fivefold classification which must now be considered in more 

detail in relation to building materials. 

1 (a). Anglesey is a flat, rolling county with soils derived 
chiefly from the metamorphic rocks but with limestone and 
sandstone soils also. 'The climate is insular, mild and humid 
and the whole island is characteristically windswept. Wood- 
lands are therefore not common. In comparison with the South 
Wales counties, hedges and other forms of shelter belt are com- 
monly replaced by earth banks and'stone walls, the latter being 
a characteristic feature in north Anglesey.' 2 Most of the more 
durable members of the Mona Complex have been widely used 
for local building purposes but the selection and treatment of 
the stone have to be carried out with care. 'The irregular 
surfaces and splintery edges of the corrugated schists render 
them quite undressable and their interspaces have to be 
liberally filled in with cement. Walls of this kind are usually 
faced with "rough-cast" [which] . . . adds greatly to the mono- 
tonous and dismal aspect of the houses.' 3 Indeed, the finer 

1 North, F. J. : Coal, and the Coalfields in Wales (1931), p. 163. 

2 Stapledon, R. G. [edit.] : A Survey of ihe Agricultural and Waste 
Lands of Wales (1936), p. 56. 

3 Memoirs of the Geological Survey (Anglesey II), pp. 851-3. 


Ordovician sandstones, particularly those of the Llannerch-y- 
medd area are far more suitable for building and instances are 
known where the rural builders have used these rocks, for sites 
on the Mona Complex, rather than use the intractable schists 
on the site itself. 1 

But the best building material in Anglesey is to be found in 
the Carboniferous rocks. There has been an extensive use of 
the Carboniferous Limestone in the island, especially its massive 
grey varieties, and of rocks in the Carboniferous Limestone 
Series which includes sandstones. It should be noted here that 
the castles of Beaumaris and Caernarvon were built in great 
part of one of the stones in this series — the Penmon rock. The 
use of local limestone in Anglesey as material for human 
habitations has continued from the Dark Ages at least. In 
the hut-group at Pant-y-saer, in Llanfair Mathafarn eithaf 
parish, excavated by Mr. C. W. Phillips in 1932-3, large slabs 
of the local limestone were almost invariably used 2 as they 
were for many of the prehistoric monuments. 

Anglesey is therefore partly a stone county. But several 
of the small cottages were of 'mud' as well as stone. For such 
small peasant structures, supplies of quarried stones were not 
looked for when clay or mud could be used in conjunction with 
stone. We are told that 'all these mud houses in Anglesey 
have now disappeared' but that 'mud and stones, in proportions 
varying with the geology of the district' were used formerly. 3 
The roofs, as one would expect in a wheat-growing county, 
were often of straw. 

1 (b). The Llŷn Peninsula. Here again, as we have seen, 
are to be found Pre-Cambrian rocks, but of restricted import- 
ance for building purposes. As in Anglesey, there is a thick 
mantle of glacial drift, consisting of boulder-clays, sands, silts 
and gravels, much of the country inland being almost entirely 
drift-covered to a height of some 200 ft. 4 The peninsula is 

1 Memoirs of the Geological Survey (Anglesey 77), pp. 851-3. 

2 Arch. Camb., 1934, p. 4. 

3 An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Anglesey (1937), p. cl. 

4 Matley, C. A. : The Pre-Cambrian Complex of South-Western 
Lleyn' in Quart. Journ. Geol. Soc. (1928), p. 441. 


low lying, most of the area being below 500 ft. and there are 
considerable marshy tracts. We fìnd therefore the use of 
igneous rocks where they appear and stone from the glacial 
drift, for building. The solid farmhouses of Bardsey Island 
and many of the small mansions of the mainland are examples 
of this use of granite and such roclcs and also of boulder-clay 
stone. Castellmarch near Abersoch is an example where the 
granite was obviously obtained from a nearby intrusion. 

But in Llŷn too, clay or mud was formerly widely used for the 
small cottages so characteristic of the area. '[The peasants'] 
Habitations . . . particularly in Llŷn consist of walls built of 
what in Devonshire is termed cobb ; that is an argillaceous 
earth having straw or rushes mixed with it while in a state of 
paste, and then laid layer upon layer, between boards, till the 
whole are ready for the formed roof composed of thatch either 
of straw or heath.' 1 A cottage at Llithfaen, mentioned before 
the Land Commission 2 is typical of the district, 'the rent was 
£1 a year, the house was made of mud . . . there were only 
two rooms.' 

1 (c) and 2 (c). North-west Pembrokeshire. The complex 
geology of this area has been dealt with by a number of workers 3 
and for our present purpose, all that need be stated is that there 
are many resemblances between it and Llŷn. The sub- 
stantially built farmhouses of the St. David's area, which may 
be compared, for instance, in some respects with those of 
Bardsey, provide evidence of the use of local granitic stone. 
On the other hand, the purplish pennant-like sandstones in the 
old work of St. David's Cathedral came from the Coal Measures 
of Nolton Haven, 4 while Cambrian sandstones (Caerbwdy and 
Caerfai) have been used in more recent work. But in this 
district again, particularly in the uplands, mud-walled building 
used to be evident, and we shall see later that it was widespread 
through the county. The whitewashed cottage, either stone or 

1 Evans, J. : The Beauties of England and Wales, XVII (1812), p. 322. 

2 Royal Commission on Land in Wales: Minutes of Evidence, I, p. 528. 
8 See for instance Cox, A. H. and others : The Geology of the St. 

David's District, Pembrokeshire', in Proc. Geol. Assoc. (1930), pp. 241ff. 
4 Fenton, R. : Historical Tour through Pembrokeshire (1903edit.),p. 155. 


mud, 'stands out clear y in the mountain landscape on the side 
of the Precelly (sic) range, such as at Maenclochog' 1 and the 
prevalent type was described in 1814 as 'a mud walling about 
five feet high, a hipped end, low roofing of straw, with a wattle- 
and-daub chimney, kept together with hay-rope bandages . . . 
the disgrace of the country.' 2 Culley, 3 writing in 1867, describes 
the cottages of Pembrokeshire (and indeed a far wider area of 
south-west Wales) as of 'mud (clay and straw mixed)'. 

It can be stated therefore without fear of contradiction, that 
the building materials of north-west Pembrokeshire, Llŷn and 
(to a high degree) Anglesey, have much in common. But it 
must not be overlooked that there are other areas of Wales 
which have much in common with these western regions from 
the point of view of the suitability of stone for building. For 
instance some of the cottages in the Trecẃn area are built of 
large blocks of dolerite or diabase and resemble in materials 
houses in the Dolgelley (Merionethshire) area where similar 
rocks occur. We shall see in Chapter VIII the importance of 
Pembrokeshire roofing-slates. Slate was also used in Pembroke- 
shire both for walling and for covering walls. George Owen 
writes 4 : 'This kinde of stonne serveth alsoe for wallinge 

2 (a) and (ò). The 'Harlech Dome' and its surrounding 
country and east Caernarvonshire. For our present purpose 
this area can be studied as a whole although there are some 
features which will have to be discussed separately. Neverthe- 
less, there is an essential unity in the materials of the whole area 
as they appear to the tourist's eye. The whole area is stone 
country, almost always associated with slate or stone-tile roofing, 
while in a considerable part of the area, the older buildings 
show a frequent use of timber in association with stone. The 

1 Thomas, [Sir] D. Lleufer : The Agricultural Labourer in Wales (1893), 
p. 63. 

2 Davies, Walter : General View of the Agricultural and Domestic 
Economy of South Wales (1814), p. 144. 

3 Third Report ofthe Commission on the Employment of Children, Young 
Persons and Women in Agriculture (1867), p. 48. 

4 Owen, George : The Description of Penbrohshire (1892 edition), I, 
p. 82. 


cnick-construction of several medieval houses in the Snow- 
donian area (see pp. 183-6) has been described in detail by 
Hughes and North. 1 Such timbering which represented oaks 
of considerable size must have been obtained locally : we are 
told 2 that the medieval builders at Caernarvon, for instance, 
'sent [carpenters] into the woods at Rhos, Llanrwst and Nant 
Conwy to fell trees and prepare big joists and large pieces of 

The Harlech district itself is notable for its characteristic 
local stone. Even the field and mountain fences are of stone : 
this, of course, is a feature found elsewhere too, but not, I 
think, to such a degree as in this part of Wales. The local 
stone in its colour and weight and the massiveness of the square 
blocks re-echo the menacing severity of the bald hills and the 
grey sea.' 3 A modern example of its use is to be seen in Coleg 
Harlech, the work of George Walton. 

In the greater part of Cantref Meirionnydd, Arfon and 
Arllechwedd (to use the old tribal names which are here 
apposite for the tract of country spreading — with Harlech as its 
focus — from the north coast of Caernarvonshire to the bound- 
aries of Montgomeryshire), the material used falls into two 
classes, blocks of hard rocks and slate. The rocks of the Harlech 
district itself are mostly sedimentary, while around the edge of 
the dome, igneous rocks — mostly Ordovician — and slate occur. 
The igneous rocks are, for the peasant builder, very intractable. 
Consequently big boulders, with little trace of trimming, were 
used. A small farmhouse in the Bwlch Oerddrws district of 
Merionethshire (plate 1) where such rocks occur, shows a 
considerable part built of less than three dozen such boulders 
(the faces of some of which, in this instance, have been roughly 
trimmed). Some of the peculiarities of this type of walling, 
which are due to the character of the stone used, will be dis- 
cussed in a later chapter. Houses showing these peculiarities 
are found throughout the area where such rocks appear : the 

1 Hughes, H. Harold and North, H. L. : The Old Cottages of Snowdonia 
(1908), pp. 5ff. 

2 Knoop, D. and Jones, G. P. : The Medieval Mason (1933), p. 48. 

3 Journal o/ the Royal Instìtute of British Architects, 1939, p. 547. 


Dinas Mawddwy-Dolgelley area may be looked upon as their 
southern limit and the Llanaelhaearn-Ormes Head coastline 

the northern. 

The Cambrian rocks of central Caernarvonshire yield slate 
of excellent quality. The area includes Bethesda, Llanberis, 
Nantlle and Pen-y-groes, the Penrhyn and Felinheli slates 
from that district being well-known. The Ffestiniog area 
provides slate from the Ordovician rocks, as do the Abergyn- 
olwyn, Corris and Aberllefenni districts which can be con- 
veniently included here. Slate is also found in the Silurian 
rocks to the south of Corris. Houses of slate blocks are found 
throughout the area and in towns and villages on its fringes, 
from the Conwy, Machno, Lledr and Llugwy valleys to Dol- 

gelley and Machynlleth. 

3. The moorland plateau of Wales. This extensive area of 
rolling upland with deep and often broad and fertile valleys 
presents a diversity in topography and at the same time a 
characteristic unity. Of the total agricultural area of Den- 
bighshire, 16% is heather moor. Of molinia and nardus 
(including mountain flush bog) which generally dominate 
upland above the tree-level, Merioneth has 26|%, Montgomery 
28%, Cardigan 27%, Radnor 22%, Brecknock 44% and 
Carmarthen 13%. x These fìgures indicate the extent and 
nature of moorland vegetation in this area, although the fact 
should not be lost sight of that lowland-pasture types also show 
a uniformly high percentage in these counties (that of the whole 
of Wales being nearly half the land surface). In short, we are 
here dealing with a large agricultural unit of grass- and heather- 
growing upland and fertile lowland, 2 with a low percentage of 
woodland (apart from Monmouthshire with woodland as 12-8% 
of the total land area, Montgomeryshire is highest with 6-6%) 3 
about 80% of the land being over 500 ft. above sea level. 

1 Stapledon, R. G. : op. cit., p. 58. 

2 In Denbighshire, out of a total agricultural area of (approximately) 
385,000 acres, 135,000 are rough and hill grazings ; Merioneth 230,000 
out of 356,000 ; Montgomery 193,000 out of 451,000 ; Cardigan 173,000 
out of 413,000 ; Radnor 129,000 out of 283,000 ; Brecknock 294,000 out 
of 465,000 ; and Carmarthen 103,000 out of 504,000. See Stapledon : 
op. cit., p. 65. 

3 Forestry Commission : Report on Census of Woodlands {1024). 


Mud and clay (often equivalent when the terms are used by 
early writers) are materials general throughout the area, 
supplemented by stone, generally unquarried except where a 
good quarried stone is easily accessible, and by timber almost 
throughout the plateau but more markedly on the eastern 
borders. Cruck construction (see pp. 183-90) is found through- 
out the area in Denbighshire, Merionethshire, Montgomery- 
shire, Radnorshire, Cardiganshire and Carmarthenshire 1 while 
half-timbering (see Chapter VII) is character stic of the eastern 
fringe of the uplands and a projection of the technique extends 
westwards in Montgomeryshire to within sight of Cardigan Bay. 

We have already referred to the mud houses of Pembroke- 
shire. In Carmarthenshire in the 18th century, 'building a 
mud cabin costs ÌOl.' 2 Cardiganshire cottages in 1815 were 
'mostly constructed of mud'. 3 The 1847 Commissioners have 
frequent references to 'clod houses' in Radnorshire 4 while 
throughout the area from Denbighshire to Pembrokeshire there 
are constant references by all the writers to the general use 
of wattle and brushwood (see pp. 191-2). A writer in 1887, 
describing the construction of houses in the west Montgomery- 
shire uplands 5 refers to the use of stone in clay for the gable 
ends, wattle and daub in timber-framing for the sides, and 
rushes over brushwood for the roof. Heather roofing is still 
to be found, e.g. at Bwlch Du, Mynydd Hiraethog, and was 
formerly widespread as an under-layer as was fern in areas 
where there were plentiful supplies. 6 In the towns stone was 
more frequently used. Corwen, in 1797, hov/ever, had houses 
of 'stone . . . cemented with clay and loam', 7 probably the 

1 C. F. Innocent's statement [in The Development of English Building 
Construction (1916), p. 35] that 'he has been unable to find it in south-west 
Wales' is surprising if he includes in that terra Cardiganshire and Carmar- 

2 Young, A. : 'A Tour in Wales' [1776] in Annals of Agriculture, VIII. 

3 Rees, T. : The Beauties of England and Wales (1815), XVIII, 
pp. 407-8. 

* Report of the Commissioners of Inquiry into the State of Education in 
Wales, 1847, p. 56. 

6 Peate, D. : op. cit. (in MSS.). 

8 Royal Commission on Land in Wales: Report (1896), p. 693. 

7 Wigstead, H. : Remarhs on a Tour to North and South Wales in 1798, 
p. 21. 


technique described by Peate above. Llanidloes, impinging 
upon the half-timbered house region, had most of its houses in 
1798 'built with laths and mud', 1 while Newtown in 1822 was 
a 'town composed chiefly of lath and plaster houses'. 2 But 
Aberystwyth in 1821 had 'houses of grey stone with whitened 
roofs'. 3 

In the more inaccessible upland regions where stone was 
available, it was often used in a primitive fashion. At Tal-y- 
llyn, Merionethshire (1847), on the edge of the slate country, 
the houses 'are formed of a few loose fragments of rock and 
shale, piled together without mortar or whitewash' 4 while 
at Llan-ym-Mawddwy in the same county (1798) the 'cottages 
are built of fragments of [stone], piled one upon another in an 
irregular manner, with the interstices filled up with lumps of 
turf or peat. The roof is covered with broad coarse slates.' 5 
In the same area of central Wales in 1775, Sir Thomas Gery 
Cullum refers to stone cottages with slated roofs and to 'tim- 
bered and plaistered' houses 6 which he contrasts with houses 
made 'entirely of Earth, and that not of Straw wrought up with 
it, but with sometimes a Layer of Straw' in Carmarthenshire. 

Reference has already been made to the delineation (sub- 
sequently modified by recent work) on geological maps of the 
Silurian rocks. This line in Radnorshire and in part of Mont- 
gomeryshire seems to indicate, approximately, the westem 
limit of half-timbered houses in that area though there may be 
no relation between the two facts. It is noted here as a matter 
of interest. But it should be observed that the timber-framing 
technique 'peters out' in the highland into houses with walls 
boarded in horizontal, overlapping lengths. 

4 (a). The Old Red Sandstone area of south Wales. This 
includes the land between the upper Wye and the fringe of the 

1 Bingley, W. : Tour round North Wales in 1798, I, p. 484. 

2 Pinnock's County Histories : North Wales (1822), p. 83. 

3 Newell, R. H. : Letters on the Scenery of Wales (1821), p. 105. 

4 Report of the Commissioners of Inguiry into the State of Education in 
Wales, 1847, p. 63. 

8 Evans, J. : A Tour through North Wales in . . . 1798, p. 66. 
8 Yaughan, H. M. : 'A Synopsis of Two Tours made in Wales in 1775 
and in 1811' in Y Cymmrodor, 1927, pp. 49, 57. 


Carboniferous area of south Wales and therefore covers both the 
Black Mountains of Brecknockshire and part of the Brecknock 
Beacons. It covers a considerable part of Monmouthshire 
skirting the Carboniferous area north-east of Cardiff. Its 
westward extension from Brecknockshire into Carmarthenshire 
narrows into a band on the slopes of the Carmarthenshire Black 
Mountain into Pembrokeshire. In Herefordshire this rock is 
the home of half-timbered work at its best (Weobley, Eardis- 
land, Pembridge, etc.) but except for its natural intrusion in the 
lowland valleys — into the Abergavenny district, for instance — 
the technique is generally absent from the Old Red Sandstone 
in Wales. 

One reason for this concerns the problem of lithology as 
contrasted with stratigraphy to which we have referred. 'Old 
Red Sandstone' is a stratigraphical — not a lithological — term 
and the Old Red Sandstone in Herefordshire is lithologically 
different from the Old Red Sandstone of Brecknockshire and 
Carmarthenshire. In the Beacons and the Vans, for instance, 
there is a great local development of sandstones and con- 
glomerates in the upper part of the Old Red Sandstone. The 
difference in building materials between the Herefordshire 
Plain and this part of Wales is due therefore to the strati- 
graphical succession in the Old Red Sandstone present in the 
respective areas and to the structure of the area, by reason of 
which the sandstones and conglomerates in the Welsh Old Red 
Sandstone make a great escarpment. 

The Herefordshire Plain therefore ends abruptly at the Welsh 
border and in Wales one enters a countryside of a different 
character. Most of the Old Red Sandstone land is at a high 
altitude — only 6-2% of Brecknockshire is below 500 ft. — 
except for valleys such as that of the Usk where half-timbering 
has intruded as far as Brecon itself. But the Beacon country 
and the north Brecknockshire uplands are part of the moorland 
plateau and for the reasons stated it is to the moorland tradi- 
tion that the houses there belong. Further west the Old Red 
Sandstone descends into the fertile Tywi valley, which is 
however so far removed from the John Abel country and 
lithologically so different that the technique of the 'black and 


white' house is not evident there. In fact, in the Carmarthen 
district, building stone for local purposes has been obtained 
from sandstones in the Old Red Sandstone, some of them 
flaggy green sandstones — note, for instance, some of the 
cottages in the Myddfai-Gwynfe district. 1 In recent work it 
may be noted that the new church opened at Gwynfe in 1899 
was built of a hard red sandstone obtained from the Brown- 
stones of the Old Red Sandstone quarried on the Llangadock- 
Brynaman road. Llandyfan Church was rebuilt with a 
similar stone. 2 

In Monmouthshire and the extreme south-east of Glamorgan- 
shire, where the Old Red Sandstone occurs, the red marls have 
been extensively used for making bricks, e.g. near St. Julian's, 
north of Gold Tops, south of Malpas, and near Cwmbrân, all in 
Monmouthshire 3 and at Llanishen and Whitchurch in the 
Cardiff area of Glamorganshire. 4 It should be remembered too 
that as far west as the Pontypool area, there was noted in 
Monmouthshire as late as the last quarter of the 18th century 
a liberal use of timber in house construction. In the parish of 
Aberystruth in 1779, 'all the houses, in number about 150, 
are built of stones and timbey, not of earthen sides and timber as 
in some parts of Wales' 5 — which may be looked upon as a 
Welsh variant of the brick and timber houses of Herefordshire. 
South Pembrokeshire, with its Old Red Sandstone, Carboni- 
ferous Limestone and Coal Measures may be conveniently 
discussed here. Building stone for local purposes has been 
obtained from all the harder rocks of the Milford district and 
thick roofing slates, often of peculiar colours, have come from 
the Old Red Marls on Skokolm Island : they were worked in 
the past for slating farm buildings. 6 At Milford Haven itself 
the Old Red Sandstone has provided marls for houses. Some 
grits occurring near the base of the Ordovician strata furnished 

1 Memoirs of the Geological Survey (Carmarthen), p. 157. 

2 Ibid. (Ammanford), pp. 221-3. 

3 Ibid. (Newport), p. 17. 
*Ibid. (Cardiff), p. 16. 

5 Jones, Edmund : A Geographical, Historical and Religious Account 
of the parish of Aberystruth (1779), p. 50. 

6 Memoirs of the Geological Survey (Milford), p. 166. 


some of the material used in Whitland Abbey, while mudstones 
('rab') have been used for domestic buildings of some local 
importance, such as Cottesmore near Haverfordwest built of 
Redhill Quarry stone. Most of the buildings in Whitland itself 
are of Silurian sandstones, a close-grained grey rock from such 
local quarries as Pen-y-back. Some of the sandstones in the 
red marls of the Old Red Sandstone have been wrought for 
building south of Whitland. The green flaggy micaceous sand- 
stone forms one of the best local building-stones and has been 
quarried in many localities here. It has yielded most of the 
stone frorn which Neyland is built. 1 In the Tenby district 
on the other hand, the Carboniferous Limestone has been the 
chief source of building-stone, where it was used locally, only 
small quantities having been exported. 2 

4 (6). The Vale of Clwyd. This piece of Cheshire-like 
scenery let down into Wales, a wedge of New Red Sandstone 
in a broad fertile valley may be looked upon in many respects 
as an extension of the Cheshire Plain isolated within the 
Silurian system. Here the half-timbered styles of the Cheshire 
type are predominant, in the Denbigh-Ruthin district for 
instance, but this feature is completely absent from the foot- 
hills of the Clwydian range on the one side and the edge of 
Mynydd Hiraethog on the other. In the Vale of Clwyd too there 
is a natural and extensive use of brick. Bricks were made from 
the red Boulder Clay in the Vale of Clwyd and at Colwyn Bay 
and near Rhyl from the marsh clay. 3 Limestone too has been 
an important building material here. The grey and white 
crystalline limestones exposed in the sides of Moel Hiraddug 
have been largely worked for building purposes. The white 
limestone of the well-known 'marble church' of Bodelwyddan 
was quarried in the hills south of Abergele. 4 

5 (a). The south Wales Coalfield. The Coal Measures 
with their band of millstone grit on north and south and their 

1 Ibid. (Haverfordwest), p. 227. 

2 Ibid. (Tenby), p. 206. 

3 Memoirs of the Geological Survey (Rhyl, Abergele and Colwyn Bay), 
p. 57. 

4 Ibid., p. 10. 

1 Braichmelyn, Dinas Mawddwy, Merionethshire. Note the use 
of ìarge boulders of igneous rock in the walling 

2 Circular pigsty, Blaen Gwenttrwc 
near Llanover, Monmouthshire. The 
exterior has been rough-cast 

■■ŵ* —» ■ -sssmr \ -^Atly 

3 Circular pigsty, Hendre, Pontypridd, 


4 Circular pigsty, Penddeucae-fach, Bedlinog, Glamorganshire 


encircling rim of Carboniferous Limestone form a large area of 
south Wales. With them we must consider the Vale of 
Glamorgan with its diversity of recent rocks. For a full dis- 
cussion of the geological significance of this region, the writings 
of Dr. F. J. North should be consulted. 1 

Over the whole of the coalfield the Pennant sandstone has 
been used for building and, due to the abnormal development 
of the district during the last one hundred years, when cheap 
transport became effective, its use has 'overflowed' to districts 
such as Cardiff. The stone however was used even in Roman 
times as 'the Pennant-grit walls of the Roman fort at Gelli- 
gaer' testify. 2 It has been used in the north in the Merthyr 
area 3 (together with stone from the Old Red Sandstone, Car- 
boniferous Limestone and Millstone Grit) ; in the west in the 
Aman Valley, where it has been quarried 'over the whole out- 
crop but none of the quarries are used for other than local 
purposes' ; 4 and in the heart of the coalfield in the whole of the 
Pontypridd-Maesteg area. 'The Pennant rock in a fresh form 
has a greyish-blue tint which changes on exposure to air, the 
prevailing tint of a building . . . being grey with a tendency to 
brown or yellow in parts.' 5 Some beds of this sandstone split 
readily and it has been used extensively for paving farmhouse 
floors and such purposes. 

Another sandstone, the Llynfi Rock, is harder and less 
fissile than the Pennant and where obtainable ('in the upper 
part of the Lower Coal series, especially in the west' 6 ) is pre- 
ferred for building purposes. In the extreme west of the coal- 
field, the sandstones corresponding to this Llynfi Rock elsewhere 
have been used as well. Carboniferous Limestone indeed has 
been used for building and walling in all districts where it 
outcrops. 7 

1 North, F. J. : Coal, and the Coalfields in Wales (1931). North, F. J.: 
The Evolution of the Bristol Channel (1929). 

2 Ward, J. : Romano-British Buildings and Earthworhs (1911), p. 255. 

3 Menwirs of the Geological Survey (Merthyr), p. 224. 

4 Ibid. (Ammanford), p. 222. 

6 Ibid. (Pontypridd and Maesteg), p. 129. 

6 North, F. J. : Coal, and the Coalfields in Wales, p. 164. 

7 See for instance Memoirs ofthe Geological Survey (Ammanford), p. 222. 


Reference has already been made to the use of sandstones 
from the Coal Measures for paving houses. The more fissile 
were also used for roofing. On the western edge of the coalfield 
in Carmarthenshire the highly micaceous and fissile sandstones 
from the Ludlow Rocks (Silurian) — on the Llandeilo edge of 
the coalfield — were worked on a large scale for tile-stones, 
e.g. at Cil-maen-llwyd, Trap, Carmarthenshire. These may 
still be seen on old buildings in the neighbourhood but their use 
has now been wholly relinquished in favour of slates. The 
rock was split into slabs about half-an-inch thick and then 
dressed and pierced for a wooden peg. 1 Fissile sandstones 
were similarly used throughout the coalfield (see Chapter VIII). 
An 18th-century commentator describes the houses of the 
southern edge of the coalfield from Cardiff to Swansea as 
'mostly covered with tile'. 2 

For the Llandybîe district on the edge of the coalfield I am 
indebted to the Reverend Gomer Roberts for the following 
information. Local stone has been used for house-walls, 
together with river pebbles (called locally popyls) and pebbles 
from the fields. There were formerly several quarries in the 
district (Ffynnon Gollen, Cil-y-rhedyn, Cwm-nant-arw, etc). 
Limestone is used in some of the farmhouses, particularly as 
corner-stones, lintels, etc. In the old cottages, the walls were 
built of inner and outer facings of large stones, the space 
between filled with small stone and a mortar of mud mixed with 
lime. Aberthaw lime was considered best for making this 
mortar although Llandybîe itself produced a large quantity of 
lime. Interior walls were made (about 1800) of wattle daubed 
with mud, clay or lime mixed with cow-hair and -dung. The 
cottages were straw thatched without exception as were many 
of the farmhouses — broom, heather and fern forming the under- 
thatch. Today it is difficult to obtain adequate supplies of 
straw ; rushes have consequently been used but the rush-thatch 
is much inferior. The tiles were obtained from Cil-maen-llwyd 
quarry (see above) and Llandybíe church is tiled with the same 

1 Ibid., p. 223. 

2 Mathews, W. : The Miscellaneous Companions (1786), I, p. 76. 


The Vale of Glamorgan with its Mes zoic rocks is in many 
respects an individual area of considerable interest. One of 
its marked features is the orderly grouping of the cottages in 
neat villages. In many, straw thatch — because of the formerly 
extensive corn-growing — has predominated. Blue Lias Lime- 
stone, a Triassic conglomerate known as Radyr Stone and 
Rhaetic sandstone have been extensively used for building of 
various kinds. In the Cowbridge district in the 19th century, 
the Lias limestone was normally used 1 while the fact that lime- 
stone from Cwrt-yr-ala, near Cardiff, was used for the con- 
struction of Barry Docks 2 and for the new walls surrounding 
Cardiff Castle is indicative of its quality as a building material. 
It may also be mentioned that for the carved work in the 
Norman ecclesiastical buildings of the Vale, Sutton stone (Lias) 
from near Bridgend was frequently employed. In the Early 
English period, stone was imported from Bristol but in the 15th 
century this was succeeded by the Rhaetic sandstones of 
Quarella and Pyle. For such buildings in later times Lias 
limestone and Radyr stone have been extensively used locally. 3 
The Lias limestone being separated from each other by shales, 
could be easily extracted in blocks of suitable size. The Quarella 
" ? presumably Chwarelau] sandstone — white or pale green — 
was in fact a rock used extensively for building purposes — it 
belonged to the Rhaetic Sandstone series referred to above. 

A feature invariably noticed by travellers in the Vale of 
Glamorgan in all ages is, to quote Gwallter Mechain, 'the 
universal custom of whitewashing'. It may be the reason why 
Malkin maintained that 'a stronger contrast cannot be conceived 
than between a cottage in the vale of Glamorgan and a cottage 
in the vale of Aberdare or Ystradyvodwg'. 4 The custom 
however was widespread in Wales, as the literature testines. 
In 1803, Oystermouth was 'a whitened town'. 5 In 1798, 

1 Thomas, [Sir] D. Lleufer : The Agricultural Labourer in Wales, p. 51. 

2 Memoirs of the Geological Survey (Cardiff), p. 23. 
s Ibid.,p. 92. 

4 Malkin, B. H. : The Scenery, Antiçuities and Biography of South 
Wales . . . in 1803, I, p. 256. 

5 Barber, J. T. : Tour throughout South Wales and Monmouthshire 
(1803), p. 21. 


Machynlleth church had 'a fault common with many of the 
Welsh churches, in being whitewashed', 1 and in 1770, in 
Brecknockshire, 'the Welsh gentlemen in these parts seem fond 
of whitening their houses which gives them a disagreeable 
glare'. 2 The custom however may have been more thoroughly 
practised in the Vale, for it consisted of 'not only the inside and 
outside of houses, but barns and stables also, walls of yards 
and gardens, the stone banks of quickset fences, and even 
[large] solitary stones . . . [and is] said to have been repeated 
monthly, or at least several times in the year'. 3 It is mentioned 
here since it gave to the limestone buildings of the Vale as 
distinct a character as that of the half-timbered buildings of the 
eastern border or the stone buildings of the Harlech district. 

5 (b). The northern Coalfield. The carboniferous rocks 
extend from the Point of Ayr in Flintshire south-east to 
Hawarden and Broughton and south to the Oswestry district. 
In the northern half of the coalfìeld most of the sandstones in 
the Cefn-y-Fedw Sandstone (of Millstone Grit type) have been 
used for local building purposes. As in the southern coalfield 
the sandstones of the Coal Measures have been similarly used 
at several places such as Flint Mountain, Mold and in the 
Buckley area. 4 The southern half of the coalfield — the 
Wrexham-Ruabon area — has many kinds of stone used in the 
past for building, the principal being Cefn stone (Middle Coal 
Measures), the Coed-yr-allt stone and the Abenbury pink free- 
stone. Carboniferous limestone has been used extensively for 
houses and village churches. 5 The Cefn stone is a light-drab 
or buff fine-grained sandstone. Wrexham parish church and 
that of Ruabon are built of it. It has been used further afield 
in modern times, notably in the University College building, 

1 Bingley, W. : Tour round North Wales in 1798, I, p. 471. 

2 Gilpin, W. : Obseruations on the River Wye . . . in . . . 1770 (2nd edit.), 
p. 94. 

3 Davies, W. : General View of the Agriculture and Domestic Economy 
ofSouth Wales (1814), p. 137. 

* Memoirs of the Geological Survev (Flint, Hawarden and Caergwrle), 
pp. 1710. 

6 Ibid. (Wrexham), pp. 176-8. 


Bangor. 1 The whitish or greenish-white fine-grained quartzose 
Coed-yr-allt rock was obtained in the neighbourhood of Ruabon 
and in several other localities. 

In the neighbourhood of both the north and south Wales 
coalfields, as we have indicated, brick-making has long been an 
important industry. In the coalfields the rocks in which the 
coal seams actually occur include shales and other relatively 
soft argillaceous rocks which are suitable for brick-making. 
In the north Wales coalfield, the Upper Coal Measures include a 
great development of clay and marls with few workable coal 
seams, providing therefore for extensive brick-making. In the 
19th century we find, for example, that brick was principally 
used in the farm buildings of Flintshire, 2 the 'good, country 
bricks' being made on the landowner's estate. In both Flint- 
shire and east Denbighshire, most of 'the old [farmjhouses were 
built of brick and timber'. 3 Brickworks occur throughout the 
north Wales coalfield area and have influenced building in that 
region. This is also true of Monmouthshire and east Glamorgan- 
shire in the south. 

From the above survey it will be seen|how closely building 
materials in Wales have been associated with the geological map. 
Indeed it may be said that geology has been the dominant 
factor, for the materials constantly in demand throughout 
Wales have been stone, mud or timber. In the absence of 
adequate stone supplies, recourse was made to the other 
materials of which the supply depended ultimately upon 
conditions controlled to a high degree by climate, geology and 

The use of timber for building has undoubtedly been less in 
modern times than at any other period. It has been suggested 
that stone came into general use in Wales 'as building material 
for ordinary dwelling-houses . . . some time in the course of the 
Edwardian period' of the middle ages. 4 Whatever the truth 

1 Watson, J. : British and Foreign Building Stones (1911), p. 134. 

2 Royal Commission on Land in Wales : Minutes of Evidence, IV, 
p. 128. 

3 Ibid., Report, p. 706. 
*Ibid.,p. 692. 


of this statement, it is a fact that cruck-construction, which 
entailed an adequate supply of large oak trees of the requisite 
shape, seems to have ceased in Wales by the 17th century, if 
not earlier. In the same way, the 17th century marks the end 
of timber-framed buüding in the west generally. 1 The number 
of later houses in this technique is small. 2 In that part of 
south-east Wales where there was an adequate timber-supply, 
the smelting of iron, and, later, the demand for pit wood for 
the coal mines, caused woodland destruction on a large scale, 3 
while it should always be remembered that the 'damp' oakwood 
dominated by the common oak was restricted to the lowlands, 
where now only remnants of the type exist owing to agricultural 
development, felling and re-planting. 3 But in an analysis 
of Welsh building-materials, the fact that the country was 
formerly more extensively wooded than it is now should be 
borne in mind. 

1 Parkinson, J. and Ould, E. A. : Old Cottages, Farm-Houses and other 
Half-Timber Buildings in Shropshire, Herefordshire and Cheshire (1904), 
p. 31. 

2 See for instance Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, 
England : Herefordshire, II, East (1932), pp. xxviii-ix. 

* Hyde, H. A. : Welsh Timber Trees (1935), p. 9. 


The Circular House 

The earliest known human habitations in Wales are chiefly 
circular in character and it is for that reason only that this 
form is considered at this stage. It is not suggested that the 
circular house is necessarily older typologically wherever 
it is found or that, in the evolution of house-types, it can be 
considered without relation to other forms. 

In Wales, hut-circles have been found in many areas but 
unfortunately few of them have been adequately excavated. 
It appears probable — in the absence however of any great corpus 
of Welsh evidence — that this type of habitation was introduced 
in the Early Iron Age, although those excavated belong to the 
Romano-British period or to the Dark Ages. They have been 
recorded in Anglesey, 1 Caernarvonshire, 2 Denbighshire, 3 Merion- 
ethshire, 4 Montgomeryshire, 5 Cardiganshire, 6 Carmarthenshire/ 
Pembrokeshire, 8 Glamorganshire 9 and Monmouthshire. 10 In 
Anglesey we are told 11 that three main types exist : 'the simplest 
form is represented by the hut (fig. 2) excavated at Parc 
Dinmor, Penmon. The wall faced on both sides with blocks 

1 An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Anglesey (R.C.A.M. 1937), 
pp. lxxviii et passim. 

2 Arch. Camb., 1922, pp. 335-45; 1923, pp. 87-113, 243-68; Antiq. 
Journ., 1936, pp. 295-320. 

3 Davies, Ellis : The Prehistoric and Roman Remains of Denbighshire 
(1929), pp. 97, 386. 

* An Inventorv of the Ancient Monuments in . . . Merionethshire 
(R.C.A.M. 1921), passim. 

5 Arch. Camb., 1880, pp. 25-30 ; 1935, pp. 161-2 ; 1937, pp. 86-128. 

4 Trans. Hon. Soc. Cymmrod., 1920-1, p. 118. See also for a general 
treatment of Welsh hill-forts by R. E. M. Wheeler and R. U. Sayce. 

7 An Inventory of the Ancienf Monuments in . . . Carmarthenshire 
(R.C.A.M. 1917), pp. 393, 701. 

8 Arch. Camb., 1910, pp. 271 ff. ; 1900, pp. 189ff. 

9 Bulletin ofthe Board of Celtic Studies, I, 1921-3, p. 70. 

10 Arch. Camb., 1936, p. 314. 

11 See (') above. 





SEC riüN a & 


& — 



srciiON c D 

5 10 il Ip jo 


p s 10 il to jo AO Ji 

I I I I I I 1 I I I I I I I I I 1 I I I fFFFTT-FFFg I I I I 

Scàle of Jtvt 


i'". .- 

Fig. 2 Ptan of circular hut at I'arc Dinmor, Penmon, Anglesey 


£**-..: ... F •* ■- ■• > ('• w 

5 Circular pigsty, The Downs, Llantwü Major, 
( rlamorganshire 


rior iil 

liinn irg 

i n i iil.u 

pif»sty , I'1k' Downs, Llantwit Major, 
showing the corbellini» tcchniquc 

7 Circular pigsty, Blaen-ddôl, Usk Valley, 
Trecastle, Brecknockshire 

8 Charcoal-burners' hut, Rockley, 
Stainborough, Yorlcshire 

9 Abernodwydd, Llangadfan, Montgomeryshire, 1937 

A farmhouse in the Hautes Alpes. The relationship between 
the dwelling house and cow-stalls here is essentially different 
from that in the Welsh long-house 


12 Tŷ'r celyn, Llandeiio, Carmarthenshire 


of stone, enclosed an area 25 ft. in diameter. A rectangular 
socket carried the central post of a conical roof of poles thatched 
with heather. On one side an enclosure of slabs set on edge 
formed a bed. There was no hearth within the hut, but the 
discovery of pot-boilers suggested that cooking was done in a 
leather bag, the stones being heated in a fire outside the door. 
The hut is a purely native type with no traces of Roman 
influence, though it does not necessarily belong to a pre- 
Roman period.' 

This description in the Anglesey Irwentory of what purport 
to be facts considered objectively contains two details which 
deserve comment in passing. It refers (a) to 'the central post 
of a conical roof of poles thatched with heather', (b) to 'an 
enclosure of slabs set on edge [to] form . . . a bed'. The excava- 
tion report by Mr. C. W. Phillips 1 however notes only 'a rectan- 
gular post socket' and 'anumberof largeslabs standing on edge 
to form an alcove or "bed" '. The dogmatic assertion of the 
existence of a 'conical roof of poles thatched with heather' and 
the presence of a 'bed' — while I have no quarrel with it as an 
interpretation of the evidence — is wholly hypothetical, although 
recorded in the Inventory as fact ! There is, for instance, no 
tittle of evidence for the use of 'heather'. 

The second type is circular, but with a small annexe. These 
huts often have central hearths, drains under the floors and 
passages leading to the doors. The third type is a form known 
as a 'homestead group' and consists of a circular chamber with 
one or more annexes, the whole being arranged round an open 
courtyard. In such houses, circles of post-holes have often been 
found concentric with the outer wall 2 and a row of beds at the 
side of the room. Another feature of several of the circular 
dwellings in Wales is a raised platform, generally formed of 
stone slabs. 3 

Hut dwellings conforming to one or other of the above types 
have been found on all the sites in Wales enumerated above. 
In some cases too the dwellings are oval or rectangular in form 

1 Arch. Camb., 1932, p. 250. 

2 See, for instance, íor Caernarvonshire, Antiq. Journ., 1936, pp. 305-6. 
8 Arch. Camb., 1872, p. 242. 


(e.g. on Gateholm, Pembrokeshire). It is beyond the scope of the 
present enquiry to deal in detail with either the distribution 
of these sites or several problems — of date, etc. — which arise 
and which are the archaeologist's concern. But a study of some 
of the features of these dwellings is essential to our present 

One fact which has emerged is the comparatively large 
number of such dwellings in the stony and comparatively soil- 
less western regions of Wales and the paucity of evidence for 
their existence in the eastern region of the country. It would 
appear that one reason for this distribution is the character 
of the country. Where wood was abundant it is likely to have 
been used in the construction of such huts and their traces have 
consequently disappeared to a high degree, or can only be found 
after careful investigation. 'Many camps yield no trace of 
any dwellings until they are excavated. Then remains often 
come to light of lightly constructed huts built of wattle. 
Occasionally all that is found is pieces of hardened clay with 
the impress of the wattle on them. As an example may be 
quoted the wattle dwellings of Hunsbury. The tribesmen were 
probably governed in their choice of building material by the 
local supply just as is the case today. Thus, on the uplands 
of Caernarvonshire, where stone is plentiful and easily obtained, 
nearly every enclosure contains hut circles, whereas, in other 
areas, the local supply of willow twigs or hazel boughs was 
used to make good the deficiency in the stone supply.' 1 

The construction of these huts can be studied from the 
details available from certain sites which have been adequately 
excavated in recent years. From the evidence from such sites 
as in Anglesey, Caernarvonshire and Glamorganshire, the stone 
walls were thick (2| ft. in the Blaenrhondda huts) and consisted 
of earth and stones with rough facings of uncoursed stonework 
without and within. The Parc Dinmor hut mentioned above 
had a rectangular post socket, which presupposes a roof 
supported by a central post. The Blaenrhondda hut walls 

1 Sayce, R. U. : 'Hill Top Camps with special reference to those of 
north Cardiganshire' in Trans. Hon. Soc. Cymmrod., 1920-1, p. 118. 



'suggest that the stonework extended to a height of only 3 or 
4 feet, above which tree branches and turves doubtless formed a 

liti« ef M*dím TtucIcj 

Scalr of- F««t- 

Fig. 3 Plan oí House I, Caerau, Clynnog, Caernarvonshire 

conical roof. The defìnite evidence of a central pole was 
observed, although in a few of the huts small heaps of stone 


in the middle of the floor may have formed a basis for a roof 
post.' 1 

At Caerau, Clynnog, Caernarvonshire (fig 3) there was in 
Room A of House I 'a central (or almost central) post-hole, 
marking the position of a single wooden upright, which carried 
the roof. The hole was 13 in. deep and somewhat irregular, 
but was certainly intended for this purpose.' 2 In Room B 
'there was no central post-hole for the roof. Instead there is a 
small patch of hard yellow clay, 15 in. in diameter and 3 in. 
thick, almost in the centre of the floor. . . . Clay of this nature 
. . . is certainly not natural in the present position. Three feet 
to the north-east a small flat stone was encountered. It is 
probable that it originally rested on the clay and formed the 
support for a central post. 

'Such an arrangement occurs in House II, Room A, and 
probably also in House II, Room B. Between this clay deposit 
and the wall of the room there is a series of six post-holes. . . . 
Four of these holes are disposed with fair accuracy equidistant 
from one another and midway between the clay deposit and the 
wall. Post-holes 5 and 6 are, however, irregular and their 
position must be due to the presence of hearths. Just within 
the room at the entrance there is a double post-hole of the 
same type. It is clear from these indications that the room 
had a thatched roof supported on a series of six posts sur- 
rounding a central pole. This was necessary on account of the 
size of the room and the probable difficulty in obtaining timber 
of sufficient length to reach from the centre to the wall without 
additional support. The double hole indicates that the entrance 
was covered in a similar manner.' 3 From these facts it seems 
likely that a roof of poles covered with thatch and supported 
by a central pole (and in some dwellings by a series of poles 
arranged in a circle) seems to have been a normal feature of 
these houses. This was not however always the method of 

1 Wheeler, R. E. M., iti Rhondda MSS. (in typescript in the National 
Museum of Wales). 

2 O'Neil, B. H. St. J., in Antiq. Journ., 1936, p. 303. 
8 O'Neil, B. H. St. J. : op. cit., pp. 305-6. 


roofing adopted. Elias Owen 1 refers to a corbelled stone roof 
at Gerlan, Bethesda : 'the walls were of stone, the roof was 
formed of stones overlapping each other and the whole building 
resembled a large beehive. The entrance was four feet high 
and three broad.' This type will be considered later in this 

The internal arrangement of the huts presents several 
features of importance. Hearths have been found in the centre, 
sometimes built up as in an example at Tŷ-mawr, Holyhead, or 
enclosed by orthostatic slabs as at Blaenrhondda. At Caerau, 
Clynnog, some of the hearths consisted of oval hollows in the 
floor, lined with yellow clay. In one of the rooms this was 
close to a post-hole, the post presumably being protected from 
the fire by a stone discovered there in its original position. 
In many instances, hearths were found against the wall while 
in several other cases, such as at Parc Dinmor, no hearth of any 
kind was found but quantities of pot-boilers suggested that the 
cooking was done by their use, the fire being probably outside. 

In several cases, a raised shelf is a feature of the huts. At 
Tŷ-mawr, Holyhead, such a shelf was formed of a single stone 
and was flanked by hearths. 2 At Pant-y-saer, a raised platform 
two feet high and up to four feet wide passes eccentrically round 
the inside of the hut. 3 At Blaenrhondda, Wheeler writes of 
one of the huts as 'apparently unique in the possession of a 
stone-built bench or sideboard which projected for a distance of 
two feet from the west wall'. 4 This feature conforms to the 
tyle discussed below (pp. 94-5). It is found also in some of 
the Portugese huts, where stone 'benches' run round the whole 
of the interior. 

Some of the huts are divided into irregular compartments 
by lines of upright slabs set on edge. This is the case in an 
instance from Tŷ-mawr, Holyhead, and in another at Parc 

1 Owen, Elias : 'On the Circular Huts sometimes called Cyttiau'r 
Gwyddelod and their Inhabitants' in Y Cymmrodor, 1888, p. 338. 
1 An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Anglesey, p. 27. 
8 Arch. Camb., 1934, p. 10. 
4 Op. cit. 


Dinmor — the 'alcove or "bed" ' referred to above. Some of 
the floors are partially paved. Another feature of certain of the 
huts is a drainage system and paved channels which may 
indicate Roman influence. At least one of the paved channels 
in Anglesey seems to have been used by a metal worker. 1 

The use of such channels may be further referred to by a 
feature which appeared in some Monmouthshire cottages in the 
19th century. An excavation 2 of a Romano-British site at 
Finchingfield, Essex, in 1936 revealed a trench 'which seems to 
have served . . . as "an outside, underground kitchen".' The 
occupier of the site stated that in the second half of the 19th 
century in certain parts of Monmouthshire, so his aunt, who 
lived there, informed him, the cottages were so small and 
inconvenient that their occupants had to cook outside under- 
ground. A trench had to be dug and lined with stones, bits 
of pot, clay, etc. : at one end was a broad ledge of stones over 
which they raised a domed roof with, below, a 'back-door', 
through which was inserted the bread for baking. The trench 
might serve several families and was divided up accordingly 
as required. 'The parallel', writes the excavator, 'is extra- 
ordinarily close but our trench may also have been used in 
part for the minor metallurgical operations of our (hypothetical) 
worker in iron, bone and horn.' This possibility of under- 
ground cooking should always be considered in dealing with 
the Welsh sites : in many, as Stanley points out, 'it would 
have been impossible for the inmates, without suffocating, 
to have made a fire inside of wood, heath or gorse. We may 
therefore conclude that the larger animals were cooked in pits 
outside.' 3 

Finally, it may be suggested tentatively that the types of 
hut-circles recorded (a simple circle, a more elaborate dwelling 
with annexes and passages and the homestead groups) may 
represent social gradation. If we bear in mind that the Welsh 

1 An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Anglesey, p. lxxviii ; 
Antiq. Journ., 1936, pp. 300ff. 

2 Trans. Essex Archaeological Society, XXII (1939), p. 312. 

3 Antiq. Journ., XXIV (1867), p. 237. 


Laws contain much material of great antiquity, it can be argued 
that the homestead-group may well represent some such 
habitation as the nine-chambered palace which was always 
the chieftain's right ('naw tei adyly ytayogeu y gwneuthur yr 
brenhin' 1 ) while the simpler types represented inferior social 
status. It may be of interest to note here that Llywelyn ap y 
Moel (? 1395- 1400-1 440) in a poem 2 refers specially to one 
type of taeog's house as having a to tyweirch (turf roof). 

We have now to consider the later history of the circular 
dwelling in Wales. Unfortunately the evidence is meagre. 
In a settled society, the circular house would be discarded : 
its size was limited by its mode of construction which made 
subsequent enlargement impossible. The development of the 
ridge-piece house of rectangular or sub-rectangular form 
outmoded the round house with its problems of roofìng, lighting 
and heating. Consequently it is not strange that the evidence 
for circular houses is slight. They were probably set up 
mainly as habitations of a temporary character. It is there- 
fore, in this connexion, of interest to note that Wheeler, 3 in 
discussing the Blaenrhondda hut circles, suggests that the 
evidence there 'is only sufficient to enable us to conjecture 
that the village may have been the hafod of a pastoral people 
and . . . that its primitive type is not necessarily incompatible 
with a comparatively recent date.' 

Giraldus Cambrensis in the 12th century refers to temporary 
dwellings, 'for service for a year' and his description of the 
Welshmen's dwellings may well be of circular huts (see note 
p. 135). The custom of the Welsh, he writes, is to raise dwellings 
of plaited rods, on the outskirts of the woods, enough to be of 
service for a year, and that with as little labour and expense as 
possible. 4 A poem, 5 attributed to both Dafydd ap Gwilym and 
Gronw Ddu o Fôn (14th-15th centuries), refers to the same 

1 Wade-Evans, A. W. : Welsh Medieval Law (1909), p. 57. 

2 'I dŷ taeog do tyweirch' in Lewis and others : Iolo Goch ac Eraill 
(1925), p. 119. 

3 Op. cit. 

4 See his Descriptio Rambriae, cap. XVII. 
6 Cardiff MS. 26, p. 79. 


custom of plaiting rods : 'Clymu brig . . . coed a'u blaen yn 
bleth . . . caban o ddail . . . capel crwn'. [Tying the ends . . . 
trees with their ends plaited . . . a cabin of leaves . . . a circular 
chapel.] The references to the clymu brig and the blaen yn 
bleth are very suggestive of a round dwelling, as will be seen 
when the circular-house technique in western Europe is con- 
sidered below. The evidence is however inconclusive. 
Richards 1 indeed has argued that Giraldus referred to the 
practice of wattle-and-daub work and even suggests that the 
temporary houses could have been made in bangorau (wattle 
framing) for transport, but any one who has had experience in 
transporting wattle-and-daub work will realize how impossible 
it is. If there were such movable houses the bangorau must 
have been of wattle only, which may have been the type in 
Richards's mind. 

A reference in Peniarth MS. 96 (late 16th century) should 

also be considered. 2 Here in a Trystan and Esyllt episode is 

found the phrase 'gwnaethbwyd gwely o ddail yddynt a ffebyll 

or koed ar dail' [a bed of leaves was made for them and a tent 

of the trees and leaves]. Loth compares the pebyll with 

Dafydd ap Gwilym's often-mentioned deildy. Both were 

probably circular. I am reminded (by Mr. Tom Parry) of a 

couplet by Dafydd ap Gwilym describing a deildy made of 

nine trees : 

I waered, yn grwn gwmpas, 
I fyny yn glochty glas. 

[Below a circle, above a green belfry.] 

Mr. Parry adds that the description may be of the trees them- 
selves and not of the deildy. 3 

Further evidence of houses of a circular and temporary character 
in Wales brings us to comparatively recent times, to the period 
when squatters set up their houses on common waste lands. 
Such 'squatting' seems to have been common from the 17th to 

1 Richards, R. : Cymru'r Oesau Canol (1933), p. 126. 

2 Bulletin ofthe Board of Celtic Studies, V (1929-31), p. 121. 

8 Revue Celtiçue, XXXIV (1913), p. 378. For the deildy see Williams, 
Ifor and Roberts, Thomas : Dafydd ap Gwilym a'i Gyfoeswyr (1935), 
pp. 36-7. 

13 Blaenwaun, Llansachvrn, Carmarthenshire 

14 Cwmeilath, Llansadwrn, Carmarthenshire 

15 Llwyn-rhys, Llanbadarn Odwyn, Cardiganshire, 
in the early years of the 20th century 

16 Llwyn-rhys, Llanbadarn Odwyn, Cardiganshire : the last phase 


the 19th century 1 and in 1845 a Select Committee on Commons' 
Inclosure reported on the subject. The method generally 
adopted was to erect a tŷ unnos, a house built in one night and 
enclose around it a small area of ground. To accomplish this 
feat, the squatter 'gets his hut up with clods to begin with'. 2 
These houses were sometimes round but often rectangular. 
'The intending proprietor and his friends proceeded to [the 
building site] at nightfall and with great activity cut clods or 
square pieces of the green sward. When a quantity of the 
turf had been cut, a part of the company commence building 
up the walls with the clods, which, having been raised 
sufficiently high, the previously prepared roof was put on and 
thatched with straw or rushes with all proper speed, so that 
the roof should be completed and smoke ascend through the 
chimney ere the sun rose. All this having been done, the 
active builder could say "My house is my castle" and bid 
defìance to all previous rights of lord of manor or owner of 
soil. The quantity of land that the proprietor of clod hall 
could lay claim to was decided by his throwing an axe from the 
door of the caban in various directions, the hedge being planted 
along this line.' 3 

It was to this kind of dwelling that the Education 
Commissioners doubtless referred in 1847 when they stated 
that the poor 'inhabitants [of the Rhayader, Radnorshire, 
district] chiefly occupy clod houses without a window or 
aperture but the doorway and chimney and the roof covered 
with ashes, not watertight, only one room.' 4 

There is no doubt that a large number of these tai unnos 
must have been rectangular in character. But there is also 
evidence of circular — or at least sub-rectangular — houses of this 
type. Sir Lleufer Thomas reports in 1893 5 on 'the "ink-bottle" 
houses of squatter districts in Merioneth and Montgomery- 

1 Royal Commission on Land in Wales : Report, p. 589. 

2 Select Committee on Commons' Inclosure, 1845: Minutes, p. 216. 

3 Bye-Gones, 19th May, 1875. 

4 Reports of the Commissioners of Inquiry into the State of Education 
in Wales, 1847, P- 265. 

6 Thomas, [Sir] D. Lleufer : The Agricultural Labourer in Wales, p. 22. 


shire. In these, the chimney is in the centre of the house and 
the roof tends to be of a circular shape, hence the name. They 
are generally made of mud or earth with wattle partitions and 
are straw thatched but they are not very numerous.' 

Numerous indeed they could not have been for the present 
writer, forty-five years after this report was published, scoured 
the countryside without avail for traces of them, and failed to 
discover any local inhabitants who could describe them. Sir 
Lleufer in his Reỳort describes these houses in considerable 
detail : 'There are still in the hilly districts of Garthbeibio, 
Llangadfan &c, many old-fashioned cottages and even farm- 
houses, which present a wretched appearance, being often built 
of mud and wattling and thatched with rushes or heather, 
partly owing to the inconvenience and expense of procuring 
lime, timber and other material, and partly owing to the fact 
that at least some of them have been built by the occupiers 
themselves in the capacity of squatters on the wastes of the 
manor. ... A tapering aperture in the roof serves for a chimney, 
but quite as often as not the smoke escapes by the door, or 
oozes through the partitions after mellowing every article of 
furniture as well as the complexions of the inmates. Many of 
the older houses of this type have their fires of peat . . . on the 
floor ìn the centre of the dwelling and owing to the corresponding 
position of the chimney they were formerly known as "ink- 
bottle houses".' 1 The Merionethshire examples are cited in 
the neighbouring mountainous districts of that county. 2 In 
the absence of further evidence, it is impossible to discuss these 
dwellings more in detail, except to say that the presence of an 
open-hearth fire 'in the centre of the dwelling' is a feature to 
be noted. 

It has been said that 'old and humble buildings have 
descended in the social scale in the course of their existence'. 3 
One can certainly observe the persistence with which forms and 
methods of construction continue in use in Wales, and 'the 

1 Ibid., pp. 84-5. 

2 Ibid.,p. 101. 

3 Innocent, C. F. : op. cit., p. 1. 


strange persistence with which the characteristics extend from 
the earliest times to the present day'. 1 We have therefore to 
mention at this juncture the circular pigsties still to be found 
in parts of south Wales. Malkin writing 2 of the village of 
Welsh St. Donats at the beginning of the 19th century, states : 
Tn this village are several specimens of the genuine Welsh 
pigsty, the conical form and solid fabric of which give an air 
of architectural dignity to these edifices.' This type of pigsty, 
now to be described, still survives and examples are illustrated 
(plates 2-7). 3 Thirty-four examples — of which thirty survive, 
the others having been destroyed in recent years — are known 
in Brecknockshire, Cardiganshire, Carmarthenshire, Glamorgan- 
shire and Monmouthshire. 4 All these pigsties are circular. 
With two or three exceptions which have thatched roofs they 
are constructed entirely of stone, the stonework being identical 
in technique with the beehive-huts (clochans) of Ireland and 
Scotland. The corbelling technique is illustrated in plate 6, 
which shows the interior of the Llantwit Major (Glamorgan- 
shire) example. The term 'beehive' is indeed apt, for the 
Llanover example, the exterior of which has been rough-cast, 
appears, as you approach it, like a large inverted wasps' nest. 

1 Henning, R. : Deutsche Haus, p. 163, quoted by Innocent, C. F. : 
op. cit., p. 2. 

2 Malkin, B. H. : op. cit., pp. 115-6. 

3 I am indebted to Sir Cyril Fox for the photograph and details of the 
Bedlinog (Glamorganshire) pigsty. 

4 Examples still sur\ r iving or — in the case of four examples — known to 
be in existence within the last fifty years, occur in the following districts : 
Blackwood, Blaina, Llanover, and Machen in Monmouthshire ; 
Aberdare, Bargoed, Bedlinog, Church Yillage, Cowbridge, Landore, Llan- 
madog, Llantwit Major, Neath Valley, Pentyrch, Pontardulais, Pont- 
ypridd, Rhiwfawr, St. Hilary, Skewen in Glamorganshire ; Ammanford, 
Cil-y-cwm, Llanarthney, Llandybie, Pencader and Trimsaran in Carmar- 
thenshire ; Trecastle in Brecknockshire ; and Llangrannog and 
Ystumtuen in Cardiganshire. I am indebted to over fifty correspondents 
for supplying me with information, drawings and photographs of many 
of these pigsties : their number precludes individual references but their 
willing co-operation — in several cases at much personal inconvenience — 
is gratefully acknowledged here. A map of the distribution of these 
circular structures would be illuminating but in view of the known fact 
that many of them have disappeared and the probability that many 
exist of which we are ignorant, such a map prepared on the present 
available evidence would be misleading. 


A number of these pigsties was examined : they are all 
approximately of the same size. Their external height ranges 
from 10 to 13 ft., their internal diameter from 5 ft. to 6| ft. 
In one or two cases (e.g. at Bedlinog) there is a small 'window'. 
All the examples have small entrances, that at Llanover, for 
example, being 3 ft. by 2J ft. wide. The walls are all thick, 
ranging up to two feet. 

Why should these 'edifices' have been built as pigsties ? 
What is their date ? Do they represent human habitations 
which have so 'descended in the social scale' that they have been 
given over to pigs ? These are questions which cannot all be 
answered. None of the examples examined has any datable 
feature. In size none of them bears comparison with the early 
huts, most of which were well over 20 ft. in diameter. While 
all the examples are related to the lay-out of the farm buildings 
of which they now form a part some of them could possibly be 
earlier than those lay-outs. The Llanover example, for 
instance, is built on a roadside and the containing wall of the 
farm on which it is found does not encompass it : indeed 
even the later wall forming the sty-yard leaves a part of the 
building outside the farm area. The Bedlinog example is 
earlier than the neighbouring buildings. In the same way the 
thatched example at Creigiau is not in a position where one 
would expect a pigsty. In short, the possibility in certain 
instances that these are buildings adapted as pigsties cannot 
be ignored although it is not argued here. 

The case for considering the buildings as survivals of the 
hut type must be dealt with. Although the sties are much 
smaller than the early hut circles known in Wales, they corres- 
pond to the size of the Irish clochán and the Scottish bothan. 
'The normal, and I presume the most modern form of a bee- 
hive house' in Uig, Lewis, writes F. W. L. Thomas 1 in 1860 
'is . . . six or seven feet in diameter'. This can be compared 
with the measurements quoted for the Welsh pigsties. In the 
Lewis huts there were doors 2\ ft. high by 2 ft. wide which 

1 Thomas, F.W. L. : 'Description of Beehive Houses in Uig, Lewis . . .' 
in Proc. Soc. Antig. Scot., III (1860), p. 136. 


can be compared with the Welsh examples. Thomas draws 
attention to a hole left in the apex of the roof and closed with 
turf or a stone. This may be compared with the Bedlinog 
and Skewen sties, which have a similar feature. Macalister 
in his description of the Irish clochán writes 1 : 'At last the 
sides of the building approximated together so that the hole 
in the top of the chamber could be closed with a single fiag- 
stone.' This is the method employed in most of the pigsties, 
the Llanover example having an apex built above the stone. 
Some of the Scottish beehive huts were inhabited in the 
19th century but as we have seen the south Wales examples 
were described in the early years of that century as 'the genuine 
Welsh pigsty'. It is worth notice too that in the Irish Gael- 
tacht the beehive huts are now used 'not as dwellings, so far 
as I know, but as milk-houses or for storing turf etc. In . . . 
Co. Kerry, beehive houses are still being built as outhouses.' 2 
In view of this parallel, it can be argued with great probability 
that the Welsh circular pigsty represents a survival of the 
type and technique of the beehive hut as found in Ireland and 
Scotland. 3 The adaptation of the technique to pigsties is easily 
explicable. The pig is the only domestic animal which could 
be accommodated in such a beehive hut, indeed for which such 
a hut is peculiarly suitable. Consequently with the abandon- 
ment of such structures for human habitation, the tradition 
and technique were applied to house the one domestic animal 

1 Macalister, R. A. S. : The Archaeology of Ireland (1928), p. 242. 

2 Campbell, Âke : 'Notes on the Irish House. II', in Folk-Liv, 1938, 
p. 179. 

3 Since this chapter was written, Mr. W. F. Grimes, M.A.,F.S.A., has 
excavated the Saltway Barn Long Cairn near Bibury, Gloucestershire. 
He informs me that a chamber there (which may be described as a 'house 
for the dead' for it is an integral part of the plan and structure of the 
long cairn) took the form of a circular hut with forecourt or entrance 
passage, the whole built of dry stone-walling. The chamber had a 
corbelled roof of domical type and had a diameter of 5£ ft., the overall 
heightbeingalsoabout5|ft. Bonded into the wallof thehut, all around it 
and on one side of the passage was a stone 'seat', while the hut had also 
two niches. It is established therefore that the circular hut with a 
corbelled domical roof and of dimensions comparable with our 'pigsties', 
i.e. considerably smaller than the huts of the Early Iron Age-Dark Ages 
period was known in western Britain in Neolithic times. 


for which the beehive hut was suited. An analogy is to be 
found in the history of the medieval English hall. Halls 
continued to be built as barns for many centuries after they 
had ceased to be built for their original purpose. If this be the 
case, the circular pigsty constitutes the survival of a type which 
may well be the starting-point for any discussion of the Welsh 
house. The circular huts already discussed, similar construc- 
tions in Cornwall, 1 France, 2 Spain 3 and Portugal, 4 in Italy and 
Greece and in Denmark, Norway and the Swedish provinces 
of öland and Gotland 5 must all be considered as parallels. 
It is of interest to note, too, that the domical corbelling tech- 
nique is to be found in Iceland. 6 

The argument against considering these pigsties as such 
survivals can be stated briefìy. They are found in a region 
which is comparatively poor in circular stone huts of an early 
date. The Blaenrhondda site is the only known instance in 
Glamorganshire and its date may be fairly late. Its presence 
however is an indication of the existence in this area of the 
hut tradition. But in those areas of Wales rich in stone hut- 
circles (e.g. Anglesey and Caernarvonshire) the survival of the 
technique does not appear to be known. With one exception : 
it must not be overlooked that the hut described above (p. 43) 
by Elias Owen, at Bethesda, Caernarvonshire, answers in every 
respect to the description of the south Wales 'pigsty'. Further- 
more — although I do not attach much importance to this 
suggestion — it is possible that in a normanized region such as 
south Wales, the technique of the circular pigsty may represent 

1 Radford, C. A. R. : 'The Culture of South-western Britain in the 
Early Iron Age' in Homenagem a Martins Sarmento (1933), p. 326. 

2 Delamarre, M. J.-B. : 'Contribution à l'étude de l'habitat rudiment- 
aire : les cabanes en pierre séche des environs de Gordes (Vaucluse)" 
in Comptes Rendus du Congrès International de Gêographie Paris 1931, 
III, pp. 293-8. 

3 Bosch-Gimpera, P. : Einologia de la Peninsula Ibèrica (1932), 
pp. 490ff. 

4 Cardozo, Mario : Citânia e Sabroso (1938). I am indebted to Dr. 
H. N. Savory for this reference. 

5 Campbell : op. cit., p. 174. 

6 Bruun, D. : Fortidsminder og Nutidshjem paa Island (1928), 
pp. 194-6. 


a reflection for humbler purposes of the characteristics of the 
circular manorial columbaria so well-known in France and not 
unknown in the Vale of Glamorgan. But the weight of the 
evidence, it seems to me, although the matter must still be left 
open, favours the consideration of 'the genuine Welsh pigsty' 
as a survival of the domical clochán type, with a prehistoric 
prototype known from the Welsh Marches. 

We must now deal with some circular-house types further 
afìeld in Europe since only by such comparisons can the Welsh 
problem be elucidated. The simplest form which is still 
widespread throughout most European countries is the conical 
hut now generally used by charcoal-burners and woodworkers 
(plate 8) e.g. in England, France, Germany and Switzerland 
and found also in Spain and the Mediterranean countries. It 
is found too in the Lapp riskâtor (twig-huts) 1 and in Sweden, 
Finland and the Baltic states and among the Arctic peoples as 
well as amongst primitive peoples in all parts of the globe. 
It is obvious that it is a type of high antiquity : its very nature 
makes its survival from early times difficult, but excavations 
in Germany and Finland have revealed its presence in the 
Stone Age. 2 Such huts in England 'are built of a number of 
thin poles laid together in the form of a cone ; the feet are placed 
about 9 in. apart and they are interlaced with brushwood. A 
doorway is formed by laying a lintel from fork to fork, and the 
whole is covered with sods laid with the grass towards the 
inside so that the soil may not fall from them into the hut. 
A "lair" of grass and brushwood is formed upon one side.' 3 
In most cases the ends of the poles are tied together or held 
by the notches of their twigs. This type indeed seems to be 
illustrated in Wales by the pebyll and the 'clymu brig' described 
above (pp. 45-6), the 'lair' corresponding to the 'gwely o 

1 Erixon, Sigurd : Kulturhistoriska avdelningen (1925), p. 101. 

2 Erixon, Sigurd : 'Some primitive constructions and types of lay-out, 
with their relation to European rural building practice' in Folkliv, 1937, 
p. 133. 

3 Innocent, C. F. : op. cit., p. 8. 



Some of the Gaulish huts shown on the Antonine column 
are round (others are rectangular) but the forms shown, as 
Addy has stressed, 1 show a higher stage of development than 
that of the conical hut, for the walls are vertical and the roof 
domical, although made of thatch. The walls are shown to 

Fig. 4 Gaulish houses on the Antonine column 

be of wattle (fig. 4). Similar houses were found in ancient 
Ireland : 'a cylindrical house, made of wicker-work and 
having a cup-shaped or hemispherical roof'. 2 

O'Curry describes their construction 3 : 'The plan of the round 
house was precisely that of the ordinary tent or pavilion, 
with one exception in detail, however. While the usual 
canvas tent rises tapering . . . to the top of a central upright 
pole, the round wicker-house was built by setting up per- 
pendicularly a number of poles or posts . . . ranged in a circle 

1 Addy, Sidney O. : The Evolution of the English House (1910), p. 3. 

2 Sullivan, W. K. : Introduction to O'Curry, E. : On the Manners and 
Customs of the Ancient Irish (1873), I, p. ccxcvii. 

3 O'Curry, E., supra, III, pp. 31-2. 


. . . and at equal distances from each other. The interstices 

between these poles or posts were then íìlled up with stout 

hazel and other rods in the form of wicker or basket-work. . . . 

There was firmly set up, in the centre within, a stout post called 

a tuireadh . . . into which were inserted by mortices or otherwise 

attached a certain number of rafters which descended 

slantingly all round to the tops of the upright posts of the 

wall into which they were received . . . Cross-beams or pieces 

were inserted between them . . . until at last a regular shield 

roof with a sharp pitch was formed above : across the rafters 

. . . were then laid bands or laths which were fastened with 

pegs or . . . twisted withes ... On these again were laid what 

may be called a sheeting of rods and thin branches of trees.' 

The shell of the house being finished it was thatched with 

straw, rushes or sedge and the walls staunched, probably 

with clay, moss or skins. An account of the building of such 

a house is given in the Life of Saint Colman Ela of Laun Ela 

in which Saint Baoithin speaks : — 

Of drops a pond is filled ; 

Of rods a round-house is built, 

and references to the type are numerous in the Ancient Irish 
Laws. Some of the creel houses — which correspond to the 
Welsh hafotai — of Scotland seem to have been constructed in 
the same way. 1 Nor should the circular dwellings of the 
Glastonbury Lake Village be overlooked. 2 

Circular buildings illustrating typologically a higher stage 
of development are to be found in the Roman Campagna. 
They have been discussed at length by Professor Erixon. 3 
On the Campagna, as he points out, within earshot of the 
Eternal City, the herdsmen live probably in much the same way 
as their forefathers did before Rome was built. They live 
in huts which are sometimes circular, sometimes oval or 
rectangular. These are known as caŷanna. The term itself 

1 Proc. Soc. Antiq. Scot., VII (1866-8), p. 177. 

2 Bulleid, A. and Gray, H. St. George : The Glastonbury Lahe Village 
(1911), I, pp. 55-7. 

3 In Folhlit, 1937 : See note ( 2 ), p. 53. 


is of interest since in the cywydd (p. 46) attributed to Gronw 
Ddu, the 'capel crwn' (round 'chapel') is described as 

caban o ddail mân ym yw 

[It is for me a caban of small leaves]. 

Caban is actually derived from caỳanna through Middle 
English and Old French cabane, and seems to have been used 
to connote amongst other types structures similar in several 
respects to the capanna. 

In the Campagnan capanna, the walls and the roof are, unlike 
those of the conical hut, constructionally independent. Three 
or four or more poles are set in pyramid fashion, their endstied 
together at the top with strips of bark, as suggested in the 
description of the caban. A circle is then marked out, whose 
centre is the hearth-place and whose periphery is marked 
inside the circle of slanting posts. This is the wall-line and into 
it are driven posts which intersect the main supports some 
distance above their bases. A coarse rope of twisted osier is 
run along the tops of these posts to join them and to fasten 
them to the slanting posts at their line of intersection. These 
main supports are then cut off at that line, which now forms the 
wall-plate. The whole building is plaited with osiers and 
covered with canna stalks or coarse twigs and again with dry 
grass until the resultant structure appears to be in one piece 
with no separate vertical walls. The central hearth consists 
merely of the smooth earth floor but generally with a circle 
or rectangle of small protecting stones. There is no chimney. 
Erixon points out that in the largest of all Stone Age huts 
discovered in Finland a similar technique was employed. 
In this case there was an outer ring of poles and an inner 
circle of vertical piles, together with a separate porch (fìg. 5). 
'The construction was therefore identical with [that of] the 
Roman capanna, with the sole deviation that the outer sloping 
posts in the conic wall would appear to have been retained in 
the Finnish Stone Age and not cut away as on the Campagna.' 
Similar evidence is obtainable from south Germany and 'the 
double combination of outer sloping support and inner vertical 
wall, or outer sloping roof wall and inner support as found in 



the caỳanna was not an isolated phenomenon but is a transition 
type or intermediate form between roof house and wall house, 
which may have been more widespread and more numerous 
than can at present be shown'. 1 

It appears to me that Room B in House I at Caerau, Clynnog 
(above, p. 42) and the huts at Tŷ-mawr, Holyhead (the same 
construction is suggested 2 to explain the central hearths) 

Fig. 5 Framework of Stone Age hut, Räisälä, Finland 

may well represent this type in Wales, adapted to stone-country 
technique. O'Neil's suggestion that the inner circle of posts 
was due to 'the probable difficulty in obtaining timber of 
sufficient length to reach from the centre to the wall' appears 
unsatisfactory. There would have been no such difficulty. 
It should be considered whether the signifìcant absence of a 
central post-hole 3 and the presence of an inner circle of posts 
represent in Wales a variant of a widespread building-technique 
still to be found on the Italian Campagna. 

To sum up : from the meagre evidence available in Wales, 
we have proof of (a) circular houses, principally in stone, of 
types paralleled in many parts of western and northern Europe 

1 Ibid., p. 134. 

2 An Inventory 

Anglesey, p. lxxix. 
3 But see (p. 42 above) the reference to the 'patch of hard yellow clay' 
at Clynnog. 


and the Mediterranean region. These existed from the Early 
Iron Age to at least the Dark Ages. They have developed walls, 
while some of them may possibly represent the transitional 
stage of construction exemplified in the Italian capanna. (b) 
Circular huts of a temporary character, of wood, seem to have 
existed in medieval times. Some of these appear to have been 
of the conical form widespread throughout Europe. (c) In 
later times, the squatters' 'inlc-bottle' houses represent a 
circular or sub-rectangular form with a central hearth, but 
so poorly built that they have now disappeared completely. 
(d) The circular pigsties of south and west Wales, together 
with isolated structures in north Wales similar constructionally, 
point to the persistence to modern times in Wales of a building- 
technique comparable to that found in Ireland and western 
Scotland, and probably belonging to the same culture. 


The Rectangular House : The Long-House 

The essential difference between circular houses and houses 
of a rectangular character is in their construction, although 
Erixon has shown 1 that a transitional type is known where 
rectangular houses have developed from the adoption of the 
tripod technique of the circular house in duplicate or triplicate, 
joined together however by a ridge-piece. Innocent has 
illustrated a similar construction from Yorkshire. 2 But even in 
such houses the ridge-piece is a necessity, and it is this which 
marks the fundamental difference between round and rec- 
tangular houses. 

The ridge-piece, ridge-pole, ridge-tree, or roof-tree called 
first in Old and Middle English and nenbren in Welsh, is of 
great antiquity. It is the horizontal pole set at the ridge of 
the roof to support the slanting poles on each side which 
form the framework of the roof. 'The construction of wooden 
roofs has never progressed beyond this stage and the majority 
of modern roofs are formed of rafters leaned against a ridge- 
piece. The rôle of the ridge-piece in gabled buildings is merely 
that of a convenience in the fixing and fastening of the rafters, 
but this has only been understood in recent times, and as the 
old builders believed that the ridge-tree bore the weight of the 
roof , they endeavoured to make it sufficiently large and strong 
to carry that weight and they took pains to give it adequate 
support.' 3 

Áke Campbell in his studies of Irish houses 4 refers to two 
types of rectangular dwellings, namely, the gable-chimney 
house where the chimney is in the gable-wall and the 

1 Op. cit., pp. 134-5. 
*Op. cit., p. 12. 
3 Ibid.,p. 11. 

4 Campbell, Àke : 'Irish Fields and Houses : a study of rural culture', 
in Béaloideas, V (1935), p. 74. 



central-chimney house which has the chimney 'not at either 
gable but somewhere in the middle-distance, space being thus 
allowed for a room between the chimney and the gable-wall. 
The central-chimney type allows for the possible presence of 
the sloping thatched gable.' Campbell concludes that this 
latter type stands in close relationship to the 'beehive' houses 
of a circular or sub-rectangular character. 

Such houses are known in Wales and must be referred to here 
since they represent a link between the circular and rectangular 
forms. It seems likely that the 'ink-bottle' houses described 
by Lleufer Thomas (above, p. 48) approximated to this type. 
In the same area in which these houses were found lies Aber- 
nodwydd, a house described by M. F. H. Lloyd in 1935 1 and 
photographed (plate 9) by the present writer in 1937. The 
house is now uninhabited and falling into ruins. Abernodwydd 
is of central-chimney type. It has a sloping thatched gable 
and a room (see fig. 6) between the chimney and the gable-wall. 
The house is situated in the eastern part of the central-Wales 
moorland and is a good example of the intrusion of the lowland 
half-timbered technique into the moorland. It will be noticed 
that the western gable end (the weather end) and part of the 
north wall are built of local stone in the normal technique of 
the moorland. The remainder of the house however is timber- 
framed with lath-and-plaster fillings. In plan, Abernodwydd 
is the Welsh counterpart of a widespread Irish type. (Fig. 30 
shows another example.) 

A house similar in plan but with slate roof and no sloping 
gable was surveyed and planned (fig. 31) in the Rhostryfan 
area of Caernarvonshire and will be described in the next 

But the central-chimney type is to be found widespread in 
Wales in another form — in the houses where both men and cattle 
are found under the same roof, a type which we shall call the 
'long-house'. Since Welsh long-houses include instances both 
of central and gable chimneys, both will be discussed in this 

1 Montgomeryshire Collections, XLIV, 1935-6, pp. 84-5. 




The fundamental issue which determined the lay-out of this 
type was the need for shelter under the family roof for man and 
animal in conditions where easy access to the cattle in all 
weathers was a necessity. Consequently the housing of man 
and his cattle under the same roof is found widespread through- 
out Europe where primitive conditions and environmental 
causes have demanded it. It is found, for example, in Holland 
('the Dutch farm-house is nearly always under one roof, along 
with the barn and the cowhouse : you walk out of the kitchen 
straight upon tethered and munching cows'). 1 In Friesland 
and Saxony, Schleswig, Hanover and Westphalia a similar 
arrangement is found. 2 Vitruvius in dealing with the plan 
of a Roman country house, writes of ox-stalls and stables 'placed 
in the warmest places' near the fire. Galen, describing the 
Greek peasant's house as it existed in Asia Minor in the 2nd 
century a.d. speaks of 'a single big room with the hearth in 
the middle and the cattle stalls on the right and left'. 3 Similar 
houses are found in the High Alps and the well-known 'Sater- 
land house' was also of this type, where the main floor was 
reserved for family use while the smaller partitioned rooms 
on both sides served for cattle stalls. Houses of a similar 
character are known from Yorkshire : Addy describes such a 
house, almost square in character, in that county. Denmark 
provides examples 4 and also the neighbouring parts of south 
Sweden 5 where the type 'forms a clear and firm tradition, 
probably from prehistoric times'. The type occurs 'as an 
archaic one in some parts of westera Norway'. 6 Finally, 
examples are known from all the Reltic lands — Scotland, 
Ireland, Cumberland, Brittany and Wales. 

1 Powell, A. H. : 'Country Building and Handicraft in Ancient 
Cottages and Farmhouses', in The Studio Yearbooh 1Ç20, pp. 34-5. 

2 Addy, S. O. : op. cit., pp. 79ff. 

3 Lange, Konrad : Haus und Halle : Studien zur Geschichte des antihen 
Wohnhauses und der Basiliha (1885), p. 32. 

4 Zangenberg, H. : Danshe Bondergaarde : Grundplaner og Konstrukt- 
ioner (1925). 

6 Erixon, S. : in a letter to the author. See also his 'Svenska gârds- 
typer', in Föreningens för svensk kulturhistoria tidskrift, Rig, 1919, 
pp. 1-39. 

6 Sommerfelt, Alf : in a letter to the author. 

17 Nant-y-ffin, Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire 

18 Ty'ndolau, Llangeitho, Cardiganshire 

• N .<1« 

Js* Ẅ&? 

y-^yt'^ 1 

, »:-*f VI :VŴ-Í 

■fifcfV*- ■■;»»»» -^**'**"" ^» 



19 Ty'n-coed uchaf, Blaencaron, Cardiganshire : front. 
Note the pegs for holding the thatch-ropes 

20 Tv'n-coed uchaf, Blaencaron, Cardieranshire : back 



One fact of importance which emerges from an examination 
of the evidence for this distribution is that we are here dealing 
with two types of house-cum-byre, and those types greatly 
different. As far as I can judge, no detailed comparison is 
possible between the 'Saxon' house and the Welsh long-house. 
The ground plan of the 'Saxon' house — which is characteristic 
in various modified forms of central and southern Europe is 
basilical with nave and aisles (fig. 7). The middle always 
forms the floor (diele) 'which is entered at the gable end through 
a large gate and which goes through the whole house as far 

Fig. 7 The 'Saxon' house : ground plan 

as the dwelling rooms at the end. ... In the forms of the 
Frisian and Saxon house generally in use, the horses and 
cows are always so placed on both sides of the "floor" that they 
are foddered from it. Over the "floor", over the cattle stalls 
and over all the other rooms up to the ridge of the roof the corn 
harvest and hay harvest are stored on boards and poles laid be- 
tween the joists. In the Saxon house the background of the "floor" 
ends in a low hearth on both sides of which are the bedsteads of the 
family arranged in a kind of narrow and rather high cupboards, 
whilst over against them and near them, the men-servants sleep 
over the horses and the maids over the cows. To the right 
and left of the hearth extends the space used for the household 
which is uninterrupted as far as the two opposite side walls of the 
house. This part of the house is lighted by high and broad 
windows, and on either side a glass door forms an exit into the 
open air. Usually too the well is inside the house at the side 


of the hearth. 1 Thus the master of the house can superintend 
the whole management of the household from the hearth and 
his bedstead.' 2 In the Saterland house a similar arrangement 
is found, the cattle being housed at the sides behind pillars. 
This may be compared with houses in the High Alps (plate 10). 
The Yorkshire 'house and shippon' as described and illustrated 
by Addy seems to be a greatly simplified modification of the 
same type. 

In no detail can this type be compared with the long-house, 
which is characteristic of the western European regions and 
parts of Scandinavia in particular. In the long-house, as we 
shall see, the cows are housed under the famüy roof itself and 
Âke Campbell does not preclude the possibility that 'this 
custom, which was once prevalent over north-western Europe 
. . . was not a ỳurely Celtic one'. 3 As he points out, the custom 
cannot be ascribed to poverty as it is still commonly met with 
among people who could easily afford separate accommodation 
for the domestic animals but who prefer to cling to the old 

In Wales the long-house has a wide distribution. It was 
once, as far as can be judged, the predominant type over large 
areas of the moorland plateau (Region 3, Chapter II) from the 
Hiraethog moors in the north through Merionethshire, Mont- 
gomeryshire, Cardiganshire, Radnorshire and Carmarthenshire, 
to north Pembrokeshire in the south-west and Glamorganshire 
in the south-east. I have found no surviving example of it in 
Caernarvonshire but I have been informed by older men in that 
county, that it was formerly known there also. Since this work 
has been in the press, I have been informed of three surviving 
examples at Gwalchmai, Bodffordd and Trefdraeth in Anglesey : 
these I have had no opportunity of examining : a photograph 

1 See page 148. 

2 Meitzen, A . : Das deutsche Haus in seinen volksthümlichen Formen 
(1882), p. 10. Quoted by Addy, op. cit., pp. 79-81. With this type of 
house should be compared the lay-out of the Late Bronze Age farmsteads 
at Wasserburg Buchau (second phase), illustrated in Clark, Graham : 
Archaeology and Society (1939), p. 67. 

3 In Béaloideas, 1935, p. 68. 


of one example reveals that it is a typical Anglesey croglofft 
cottage with a cow-house adjoining, and internal access from 
house to byre — a modification to be expected in Anglesey. 

As the term implies, the long-house is a single, long, low, 
oblong buüding which houses both the family and its cattle. 
The dwelling itself is always at one end, generally called the 
'upper end' (pen uchaf) though this depends upon the situation 
of the house — in some cases the dwelling is the 'lower end' 
(ỳen isaf). The other end (generally ỳen isaf, occasionally 
ỳen uchaf) is the cow-house. Between the two is the door. 
In most cases this opens into a passage called penllawr (literally, 
the head of the floor) or bing, with another door at its further 
end. This passage dividing the house into its two parts, 
dwelling-house and cow-house, generally serves as a feeding- 
walk. There are however many instances (a) where the feeding- 
wallc does not exist and (b) where it has been modified by the 
insertion, between cow-house and dwelling, of a dairy, store- 
room or calf-box. It is obvious from the houses examined, 
most of which have been greatly altered and reconstructed 
during the last one hundred years that originally the Welsh 
long-house consisted only of these two parts, dwelling-house 
and cow-house, upper end and lower end. The upper end, 
without exception, was always paved, the paving terminating 
in the passage, the cow-house floor being of earth. The name 
penllawr, 'head of the floor', is therefore significantly descriptive. 
At a later date in several of the houses examined, the dwelling 
part was partitioned off into two, three or even four rooms, 
parlour, dairy and bedroom(s). On the other hand, several 
houses examined were built with provision made for these 
separate rooms. 

One of the features characteristic of the modern renovation 
of these houses is that of raising the roof of the dwelling end 
to make possible a second storey. Consequently from the out- 
side, many long-houses appear as modern dwellings of 19th- 
century type with a central 'front' door, two ground-floor 
windows (one on each side of the door) and two or three above, 
with a low-roofed out-buüding attached (see plates 14, 23, 32). 


This is the case, for instance, at Dinas Isaf, Pen-y-graig, 
Rhondda, Glamorganshire, a house with a fireplace beam dated 
1638, but which is itself possibly earlier in date. About 1880 
the dwelling-end was raised in the manner described and during 
recent years the dwelling-end has been so altered by the 
insertion of a new fireplace, the blocking-up of the 1638 fire- 
place and various other reconstructions, including an asbestos 
corrugated roof to replace the original stone-tiled roof, that 
the complete appearance of the building has been radically 

But despite these reconstructions, the essential feature — that 
of internal access to the cow-house — has been retained and 
is an excellent example of the tenacious clinging to the old 
tradition, referred to by Campbell, by people who, if they so 
desired, could easily afford separate accommodation for their 
domestic animals. In the unrestored examples, there is a 
loft (towlod, taflod) for storing wool, cheese and corn and some- 
times used as a bedroom for the servants, which is entered 
in some instances by a staircase from without but generally 
by a stone staircase from within. The floor of the loft is 
usually on a level with the wall-plate. 

In all the houses examined, the walls are of great thickness, 
averaging from two to three feet. Throughout the moorland 
plateau they are generally of mud and stone, but of stone only 
where a good supply (e.g. Dinas Isaf, Pen-y-graig) was available. 

In all the houses examined the living room or kitchen 
adjoins the cow-house. With a few exceptions, the main (in 
several cases, the only) fireplace is against the transverse wall 
which separates the dwelling from the cow-house. This is the 
normal placing of the hearth, which is therefore, in relation to 
the whole building, in a central position (see figs. 8-19). 
Another feature of interest is that in every case the floor level of 
the cow-house is considerably lower than that of the dwelling. 
In some instances, one or two steps lead up from the cow-house 
to the kitchen : in others it is the far end of the dwelling itself 
which is above the level of the kitchen and cow-house. This 


feature occurred persistently in the houses examined and its 
significance will be discussed later in this chapter. 

Before dealing in greater detail with the various examples, 
we must now examine the literary references to the type. The 
earliest description is to be found in Breuddwyd Rhonabwy, one 
of the Mabinogion tales probably committed to writing in the 
early 14th-century, much of it (as with many Welsh folk tales) 
being probably considerably older than the manuscript in which 
it is found. To quote from it in translation : 'And Rhonabwy 
and Rynfrig Frychgoch, a man of Mawddwy, and Cadwgan 
Fras, a man of Moelfre in Cynllaith, came together to the house 
of Heilyn Goch the son of Cadwgan the son of Iddon. And 
when they came to the house, they saw an old hall, very blaclc 
and lofty, whence issued a great smoke ; and on entering, they 
found the floor uneven and full of puddles and where it sloped it 
was difficult to stand thereon, so slippery was it with the mire 
of cattle. And where the puddles were a man might go up to 
his ankles in water and the urine of cattle. And there were 
boughs of holly spread over the floor, whereof the cattle had 
browsed the sprigs. . . . And being weary with their journey, 
they sought to sleep. And when they looked at the raised 
platform (tyle) there was on it only a little short straw full of 
dust and fleas with the stems of boughs frequent in it for the 
cattle had eaten all the straw from head and foot.' This is 
obviously a description of a building which housed both men 
and animals. 1 But the absence of a bower should be noted. 

Llawdden, a 15th-century poet, referring in a poem to the 

1 In Chaucer's England ('Ful sooty was hir bour and eek hir halle' — 
The Nonne Preestes Tale, 1. 12), the use made of the house may have 
been somewhat similar. But here there was a second room (the bower), 
see p. 126. Morris and Skeat (Chaucer : The Prologue, The Hnightes 
Tale, The Nonne Preestes Tale from the Canterbury Tales [1931 Impres- 
sion], p. 195) write : 'Whilst the widow and her "daughters two" slept 
in the bower, Chanticleer and his seven wives roosted on a perch in the 
hall, and the swine ensconced themselves on the fioor . . . Cf. 
"At his beds fete feeden his stalled teme 
His swine beneath, his pullen ore the beame." 

Hall's Satires, bk. v. sat. 1 ; v. 1. p. 56, ed. 1599.' 
I am indebted to Mr. Ffransis G. Payne for this reference. 


dangers of the gwylliaid (bandits) speaks of 

Gwely'r amaeth a'r geilwad 
Wrth y côr 1 

[the bed of the husbandman and the oxen-driver near the 

The 'Depositions taken the 21st April 1607 concerning the 
setting on fire of a barn in Machynlleth, Montgomeryshire' 2 
provides us with an early 17th-century reference to the type. 
The evidence was given before justices at Mathafarn. 'The 
said David' testifies a witness 'brought in his hand into his house 
fire in a cowsherd . . . with which he fired some straw that he 
held in his hand and then delivered the same straw kindled to 
his wife and she went to look at some kine that were tied up 
in the lower end ofthe house'. Another witness 'thought to have 
the fire whereby she might have light to go to the lower end of 
the house to look to certain kine of hers that one of her children 
had that evening before tied up'. A third witness speaks of 
'a cow he had sick in the lower end of his house'. From these 
depositions it seems that the long-house with its pen uchaf and 
pen isaf was a normal type in that area in the 1 7th century . 
The date of several existing long-houses throughout Wales 
points to its widespread distribution at that time. 

A late 17th-century publication, 3 while it is in great part a 
lampoon, shows that in some instances at least these houses 
had not at that time been partitioned off . 'We found no Apart- 
ments in these their Habitations, every edifice being a Noah's 
Ark, where a Promiscuous Family, a Miscellaneous Heap of 
all kind of Creatures did converse together in one Room ; the 
Pigs and the Pullen and other Brutes either truckling under, 
or lying at the Bed's-feet of the little more refin'd yet their 
Brother Animals.' In the same way, sixty years later we hear 
that 'their Houses generally consist but of one Room but that 

1 Llanstephan MS. 128, p. 197. I am indebted to Mr. Ffransis 
G. Payne for this reference. 

2 Public Record Office MS. Wales 4-141-3. I am indebted to 
Professor E. A. Lewis, University College, Aberystwyth, for this reference 
and to Miss Amy Foster for a transcript of the manuscript. 

3 R., W. : Wallography or The Britton Describ'd (1682), pp. 110-11. 


plentifully stocked with Inhabitants : for besides the Pro- 
prietors . . . you shall have two or three swine and Black 
Cattle . . . under the same roof'. 1 In Caernarvonshire in 1797, 
'men, women and children, — cows, sheep and pigs — pig promis- 
cuously together'. 2 At Corwen, Merionethshire, in the same 
year, 'the people, cows, asses, hogs and poultry all live in one 
apartment'. 2 In the early 19th century, Cardiganshire farm- 
houses were 'of a miserable description. The dwelling house is 
generally a wretched hovel divided into two apartments on the 
ground floor with sometimes two or three small chambers above 
stairs or on a loft which is accessible only by a ladder : and the 
whole is so blackened by peat smoke and by fìlth as to be hardly 
tenantable for human beings. The . . . beast houses . . . are in 
unison with the principal buildings.' 3 

When we come to the 19th century, the long-house type had 
become so singular in a countryside where extensive re- 
building had altered the character of the houses that it inspired 
several descriptions. Notable amongst these is the detailed 
study of the type in Carmarthenshire by the Land Com- 
missioners to which we shall refer below. Thomas Pryce, in 
his 'History of the Parish of Llandysilio', Montgomeryshire, 
has a detailed description of great value of an eastern- 
Montgomeryshire long-house. Tn the early part of the [19th] 
century many of the farm houses and smaller cottages were 
taken down and replaced by more substantial buildings of 
brick. ... I will mention a house belonging to a little farm of a 
few acres of pasture-land which has recently been converted 
into an outbuilding. . . . This was a low building about 36 feet 
by 18 feet under one long thatched roof. It had a single 
entrance door, the framework of which reached to the eaves, 
which were about 7 feet from the ground, and two small 
windows in front of unequal sizes, one 2| feet by 2\ feet and the 
other 3 feet by 2 feet. The kitchen entered directly by the door 
was 15 feet by 7 feet and contained an open hearth, the only 

1 A Trip to North-Wales (1742), p. 64. 

2 Wigstead, H. : Remarks on a Tour to North and South Wales in the 
year 1797 (1800), pp. 21, 36. 

3 Rees, T. : The Beauties of England and Wales, XVIII (1815), p. 407. 


fireplace in the house and had a small brick oven, apparently 
of more modern construction, built out to the outside, in a semi- 
circle. A small bedroom, half the size of the kitchen and 
lighted by the first mentioned window, was the only other room 
on the ground flour. At the back of this room was the haybin 
of the same size as the room in front and open to the roof. 
The kitchen and small room were planked over : above the 
kitchen was the principal bedroom, reached by a ladder and the 
hay loft was over the small room. This bedroom had one little 
window in the gable end but no ceiling, the thatched roof 
reaching to the floor at both sides. The cow-house under the 
same roof occupied the other end of the building. The house 
was built of timber framework and brick. . . . The large 
chimneys in the centre of the buildings with their roomy hearths 
and comfortable inglenooks were an important feature in the 
old houses.' 1 

In a description of a Mynydd Hiraethog farm, we are told 2 
that 'rhyw un adeilad hir oedd, yr anifeiliaid a'r rhai oedd yn 
gofalu amdanynt yn byw yn un a'i gilydd, yn lle tebyca i arch 
Noah y gellid meddwl amdano' [it was a single long building, 
the animals and those who cared for them living together, a 
place as like Noah's Ark as any one could think of]. 

The Report and Minutes of Evidence of the Royal Commission 
on Land in Wales have an exhaustive study of a number of long- 
houses particularly in Carmarthenshire 3 but much information 
is also given about housing throughout Wales. For instance, 
we are told that at Pen-y-coed uchaf on the Rug estate, near 
Corwen, 'there was merely a wooden partition between the 
cowhouse and the house'. 4 The Commission's descriptions 
of various Carmarthenshire examples may be referred to here 
and will provide a convenient starting-point for the discussion 
of individual houses. 

Lan, Llandeilo (fig. 8 and plate 11) had only one entrance 
into the dwelling-end, that through the feeding-walk. The 

1 Montgomeryshire Collections, XXXII (1902), pp. 257-8. 

2 Cymru, 1916, II, pp. 77-8. 

3 Royal Commission on Land in Wales: Report, pp. 690-713. 
* Royal Commission on Land in Wales : Minutes, IV, p. 247. 

21 Gwastod, AbermeurÌLr, Carditranshii 

22 Gwndwn, Pencader. Carmartlienshire 

23 Coedlannau, Pencader, Carmarthenshire 


24 Doorway, Whithen, Pencader, Carmarthen- 
shire, leading into the feeding-walk. The 
entrance into the kitchen can be seen on the 


25 Maes-y-bidiau, Abergorlech, Carmarthenshire 

26 Erw Domi, Porth-y-rhyd, Carmarthenshire. 
An inhabited long-house in ruinous condition 

27 Hepste Fawr, Penderyn, Brecknockshire 

28 Hepste Fawr, Penderyn, Brecknockshire : 
a view from the kitchen into the cowhouse 


















tú <u 






feeding-walk however had no opposite doors. The dwelling-end 
was partitioned into a living-room and a parlour-bedroom. There 




























was a step up from the living-room into the parlour-bedroom, 
and a stone staircase in the living-room up to the loft. The 
chimney was of wattle-and-daub. There was no dairy. 





Tŷ'r celyn, Llandeilo (fig. 11 and plate 12) was a house of 
the same plan with a later lean-to addition forming a dairy. 























'The loft' stated a witness, 1 'was only one room in which men 
and women had to sleep without any partition between them'. 

1 Ibid., III, p. 250. 



Two neighbouring farmhouses, Cefn-hendre and Ffynnon Deilo 
were stated to have been similarly built. 

















Blaenwaun, Llansadwrn (fig. 10 and plate 13) was again of 
similar type, with an added lean-to store. At the time when 


the Report was prepared the feeding-wallc had been converted 
into a dairy. This was also the case at Esgair, Llansadwrn 
(fig. 12). At Nant-y-ffin, Llandeilo (fig. 13 and plate 17) the 
feeding-walk had two opposite doors . The dwelling-end consisted 
of three rooms (and a small store-room which had been made by 
partitioning off a part of the middle room). In this case too 
the steps leading up from the living-room to the bedrooms 
should be noted. 

The Report cites three other houses — Cwmeilath, Maes-y- 
rhiw and Bwlch-y-gwynt, all in the parish of Llansadwrn, as 
illustrating the first stage in modernizing the type (but see 
p. 79). Of these, Cwmeilath is here illustrated (fig. 9 and 
plate 14). In this instance a dairy has been inserted between 
the dwelling-end and the cow-house, a front entrance made into 
the house between the living-room and parlour and the walls 
of the dwelling-end carried to a higher elevation than those 
of the cow-house end. It should be noted too that there is an 
exterior staircase leading to the loft from the gable end as well 
as an interior staircase of the more normal type. 

Ystradaman in the parish of Betws (fig. 14) is another 
example cited in the Report of a house with a feeding-walk 
with opposite entrances, an additional front entrance and the 
dwelling-end walls raised above the elevation of those of the 
cow-house end. 

The present survey was carried out forty years after the 
preparation of the Land Commission's Report : it was therefore 
to be expected that the surviving examples of this type had 
diminished in number. Many have been so reconditioned as to 
be to all purposes new buildings. For instance, the Medical 
Officer of Health for the Dolgelley Union in 1896 wrote in that 
year : 'The ordinary form of farmhouses [in this district] was 
an oblong building under one roof — one part used as the house 
and the other as a byre . . . But I am glad to say that much 
improvement has been made in many farmhouses in this 
district since [1893]. '* In the same way, there were many 
long-houses in Glamorganshire at the end of the 19th century, 

1 Ibid., Report, p. 697 note. 




but the great majority of them have either been abandoned 
or so reconditioned that their original features have been lost. 
Most of the houses described in the Report are now substantially 

We shall now consider 'samples' of long-houses from various 
other areas in Wales. With a few exceptions these were 
examined and photographed during the last ten years. 

There is still a fair number of long-houses in Cardiganshire. 
Several have been visited in the course of the present survey. 
The only method of obtaining a record of all the examples 
would be to visit every farmhouse in each parish. This was of 
course impossible and since much of the countryside is remote 
and inaccessible, I had to depend to a great degree upon infor- 
mation from individuals, before visiting various sites. Unfor- 
tunately such information was often withheld. An example 
may be quoted. A friend, a Nonconformist minister, described 
to me how, in a funeral at which he offìciated, the coffin was 
brought out of the house 'past the heads of the cattle, the only 
doorway in the house', but he refused to divulge the name of 
the house or its precise locality 'since the family would not like 
a stranger to see the kind of house in which they lived'. This 
strange outlook was characteristic of many otherwise cultured 
individuals in several districts and contributed much to the 
difficulties of the survey. On the other hand I record with 
gratitude the ready co-operation of many well-informed people 
in the various localities. Mr. S. M. Powell, M.A., head master 
of Tregaron County School, with the aid of his staff and pupils, 
provided me with a list of over forty houses which had been 
loiown to be long-houses and some of which still retained their 
original features. 

Llwyn-rhys, Llanbadarn Odwyn, was a house of great 
historical interest. 1 It was photographed before the Great 
War (plate 15) and a second time when its roof had been 
'restored' (plate 16). When visited during the course of the 
present survey it was found to have disappeared completely. 

1 I am indebted to Mr. W. J. Hemp, M.A., F.S.A., for a copy of the 
notes made by him when he visited Llwyn-rhys about 1915. For two 
views of the house, see also Cymru, 1901, II, pp. 245, 271. 

29 Dinas Isaf, Pen-y-graisí, Rhondda, Glamoriranshire 

t J o O ' * o 

30 Dinas Isaf, Pen-y-graig, Hhondda, Glamort, r anshire : 
Yiew from interior into the cowhouse 

3\ ('iloerwynt, Dyffryn Claerwen, Radnorshire 


The house was of 16th-century date — possibly indeed of the 
15th century — the roof resting on oak principals (crucks) 
set on large stones at the fioor level (plate 72). The house 
originally consisted of a dwelling-end and cow-house under the 
same roof, the doorway from the upper to the lower end being 
on one side of the open fireplace, in the manner normal to the 
central-chimney type. The house is referred to in the State 
Papers for 1672 when Morgan Howell was licensed on the 28th 
October to preach at 'the house of John Jones' under the 
Indulgence of that year. 1 To make his house more suitable 
for religious services, John Jones added a small wing to his 
house : this can be seen in the foreground of the illustration. 
It represents a popular method of extension and may be the 
origin of the house-name, Tŷ Croes. The lean-to, also in the 
foreground, was still later. 

Ty'ndolau, Llangeitho (fig. 15 and plate 18) has been con- 
siderably altered in recent times, the lower end being now used 
as a cart-house. The transverse passage with its opposite 
doors, however, still remains. It is of interest to note that the 
practice of building the walls of the dwelling-end at an elevation 
slightly higher than those of the cow-house is not a wholly 
modern development. In this instance the difference in the 
roofing is contemporary with the building itself, which seems to 
be of 17th-century date. The main chimney is central, a small 
fireplace having been inserted later in the gable-end. 

Ty'n-coed uchaf, Blaencaron (plates 19-20) has now been 
abandoned as a dwelling-house and is used as an outbuilding. 
It still retains most of its original features. Like many of 
these houses in mid-Cardiganshire its thatch has been covered 
with corrugated-iron sheeting. But the illustration (plate 19) 
shows that its original thatch, which still remains, was held 
down by ropes : the pegs can be seen fixed in the wall above 
the doors and windows. Ty'n-coed again conforms to the 
normal type. It is a building of great length, with a stable as 
well as the cow-house at one end. The only fireplace is central 

1 Richards, Thomas : Wales under the Indulçence, 1672-1675 (1928), 
p. 156. 









between cow-house and dwelling but there is a second door in 
the dwelling-end. 

Gwastod, Abermeurig (plate 21) is another example of a 
17th-century house so restored as to make impossible the 
detailed reconstruction of its original plan. In this instance 
the dwelling is known as neuodd (neuadd), the rooms in the 
gable-end — there are as in many other instances steps up 
from the living-room to these rooms — being the ỳen uchaf. 
Dr. Ifor Williams has e^plained 1 how the neuadd (hall) was 
divided into two parts, the uwch gyntedd ('in anteriori parte 
aule') and the is gyntedd ('in inferiori parte aule'). There was 
also a third part, as Dr. Williams points out, y tâl isaf, where 
the ỳenteulu sat. The tradition may have persisted in this 
instance, the dwelling-end being the neuadd, the kitchen the is 
gyntedd and the parlour-bedroom end the uwch-gyntedd. These 
two terms do not however appear to be in use there. A further 
note on the connotation of the word neuadd may be of value. 
In the Martianus Capella glosses (9th century), nouodou appears 
as a gloss on palatia and therefore in that context means 
'palaces'. 2 Dr. John Davies's dictionary (1632) equates it with 
aula. Gwastod, it should be added is of cruck-construction — as 
would be expected (see Chapter VI) in a neuadd form. 

Gwarfigyn, Blaenpennal and Nantylles, Blaencaron are two 
instances of Cardiganshire long-houses now converted to other 
uses. Gwarfigyn is now used as a cow-house and the details 
of its original lay-out difficult to trace. At Nantylles the 
dwelling-end has been reconstructed and the entrance from the 
feeding-walk to the house bloched up. Its original plan is 
however easy to follow, the cow-house end retaining all its 
chief features. Another long-house in the same county which 
has now become a cow-house is Ty'n-pwll, in the parish of 
Ysgubor-y-coed in the north of the county. Gwarcwm, 

1 Williams, Ifor : Pedeir Keinc y Mabinogi (1930), p. 131. 

2 Dr. Henry Lewis in a letter, 2nd December, 1939. He points out 
too that in the Booh of Taliesin (p. 63, line 5) the form neuodd (not neuadd) 
is presupposed since it rhymes with o'th vodd. Dr. Ifor Williams kindly 
supplied me with an exhaustive note on the word neuadd. 


Llanwnnen, at the other end of the county may also be 

Several good examples of long-houses survive in Carmarthen- 
shire. Pant-mawr, New Inn, could not be photographed owing 
to its position and the proximity of the outbuildings. It is 
a central-chimney house of cruck construction and a long- 
house of normal type. Gwndwn, Pencader (fig. 17 and plate 
22) was abandoned as a dwelling at the end of the 19th century 
when a new house was built. The old house retains its original 
features and is practically untouched. The illustration shows 
that it has only one (central) chimney and that the walls of 
the dwelling-end are at a higher elevation than those of the 
cattle-end. The dwelling-end has two rooms, a kitchen and 
parlour-bedroom, two steps leading up to the latter from the 
kitchen. The ỳenllawr has two opposite doors, but a later 
dairy has been added on the south-eastern side of the house 
and is entered from the feeding-walk. An interesting feature is 
an external wall built at right-angles to the house between the 
dwelling-end and the cow-house to separate the cattle-yard 
from the domestic area. This now forms one of the walls of a 
later outbuilding : its whitewashed end can be seen in plate 22. 

Coedlannau, Pencader (plate 23) has been reconstructed. 
The original feeding-walk door can however be seen. The 
house is of the usual type. Another reconstructed house is 
Whithen, Pencader. Its doorway (plate 24) is a good example 
of the normal feeding-walk type. Maes-y-bidiau, Abergorlech 
(plate 25) is another example of the two-roomed dwelling-end, 
with a large central chimney, while Erw Domi, Porth-y-rhyd 
(plate 26) illustrates the same type — still occupied — in an 
advanced stage of disrepair. Cefn-hirfryn, Cynghordy (plate 
32) is a departure from the normal type. Here there is a 
kiln-room between the kitchen and cow-house, communication 
with the cow-house being by means of a staircase and through 
the kiln loft to the dwelling-end. The wooden ventilator of the 
kiln-room is shown in the photograph. 

Other instances of the normal type in Carmarthenshire are 
Rhiwson Isaf, Drefach, Llan-y-bydder and Ynys-Llwchwr Isaf, 




In Brecknockshire, Hepste Fawr, Penderyn (fig. 18 and 
plate 27) represents an interesting example of the type. The 
front door leads into a 'vestibule' directly behind which is a 
bull-stall and a calf-box. The cow-house is entered from the 
'vestibule' by a door on the left. The open drain behind the 
cows (llaesodren) here runs through the wall. 1 On the right, 
three steps lead up into the kitchen. Plate 28 shows the 
view from the kitchen-doorway into the cow-house. 

The long-house was formerly well-known in Glamorganshire, 
but, as one native of the Rhondda Valley informed me, 'they 
have disappeared during my lifetime because of the sanitary 
laws'. T. C. Evans (Cadrawd) 2 defines penllawr as a term 
known in his parish which is situated in the Llynfi Valley : 'a 
passage', he writes, 'in the very old farmhouses between the 
place the cattle were kept and the dwelling-house'. Dinas 
Isaf, Pen-y-graig (plate 29) is a surviving example of the 
type. The dwelling-end, as has been mentioned, has been 
altered in recent years, a fireplace inserted in the gable-end, 
the roof raised and covered with asbestos sheeting. But the 
internal access to the cow-house has been maintained and the 
unrestored parts of the building point to a medieval date. 
Plate 30 shows a view of the cow-house from the entrance to 
the living-room. 

Such houses were also to be found in the Vale of Glamorgan : 
the inspection of a much restored and converted house in the 
village of St. Hilary showed that formerly it was of this type. 
Other examples, all restored, are Argoed Edwin, Llanharran 
and several in the Tawe, Neath, Rhondda, Cynon and Rhymney 
valleys. Hendre, Pontypridd, a house probably of 17th-century 
date, has a stone staircase on the left of the central fireplace 
leading to a loft above the cow-house but there appears to 
have been no communication between dwelling and cow-house 
on the ground floor. 

Three examples may be cited from Radnorshire. Nannerth 
Canol, near Rhayader (fig. 16) is now an out-house and no 

1 Cf. Evans, E. E. : 'Donegal Survivals', in Antiguity, 1939, íìg. 3, 
p. 213. 

2 History of Llangynwyd (1887), pp. 146-7. 











• »-t 

















details of the lower end are available. The plan however 
shows that it conformed to the normal type. Llannerch-y- 
cawr, Cwm Elan (fig. 19 and plate 34), a house of cruck con- 






















struction has no transverse feeding-walk, the stalls being placed 
longitudinally as in Dinas Isaf, Pen-y-graig, and Cwmeilath, 
Llansadwrn — without, however, an entrance in the gable-end. 
The upper end of the dwelling (the parlour and dairy) is 



approached by stone steps up from the kitchen. This house, 
with its foundations dug into the valley-side, with a screen of 
trees around, is a good example of the method by which the 























peasant builder obtained shelter from the prevailing winds. 

Ciloerwynt, Dyffryn Claerwen (fig. 20 and plate 31) in the 

same county is different from the examples discussed. It 

is of gable-chimney type and originally had only one room 


in the dwelling-end. It has the usual loft above, lighted by 
a dormer window in the stone-tiled roof. This house formerly 
had opposite doors, one of which has now been blocked up 
but the feeding-walk did not extend across the building (see 
plan). The house is of cruck construction and the door-lintel 
is dated 1734. 

Montgomeryshire provides another example of the same 
nature — Pant-y-drain, Kerry, a gable-chimney house. Here 
again the floor-level of the dwelling is higher than that of 
the cow-house (fig. 21). The house is in the half-timbering area 
of the county and the gable and front walls of the cow-house are 
of wood. It is a good example of the adaptation of the long- 
house to valley conditions in an oak-growing area. The house 
is however much 'restored' and the present access from the 
dwelling-end to the cow-house is through the loft, a 'moderniza- 
tion' also apparent in other instances. At Dolhelfa, Llangurig, 
access from the house to the granary is possible. In Glamorgan- 
shire, Hendre, Pontypridd (above), shows a similar develop- 

We have already referred to the manuscript references to 
houses of this type in Montgomeryshire in the early 17th 
century. The type was formerly widespread through the 
county. Richards 1 figures a typical example dated 1665 from 
Pennant Melangell in the north-east of the county. In the 
south, Bryn-du, Llanidloes, now much altered, is of long-house 
type with a two-feet drop from the dwelling-end to the 

In Merionethshire, while there was much evidence (see 
also p. 76) of the former existence of long-houses, no surviving 
example was discovered. Nant-llwyn-gwedd and Meriafael 
Bellaf near Abergynolwyn were both formerly long-houses. 
The former, now altered, is still inhabited but the latter — 
which is of gable-chimney type — is used as an out-house. 
Wenallt Fawr, Cae'r ceiliog, north-east of Bala, is now not a 
farmhouse. It has a date-stone inscribed 1719 but there are 
traces that the original house was much earlier. Mr. W. F. 
Irvine, who adapted it for stable purposes in 1913 informs me 

1 Richards, R. : op. cit., p. 127. 



that it was of good long-house type. Nant-y-clawddhen, 
Llanfor, inhabited about seventy years ago, now a cow-house, 















is a gable-chimney long-house with one room at the dwelling- 
end and a drop of \\ in. from the penllawr to the cow-house 

In Caernarvonshire, no surviving long-houses were examined 
but, as has been mentioned above, several inhabitants knew 


of their former existence there. Mr. Evan Rowlands, Llan- 
llyfni, tells me 'Mae hen dŷ eto yn Penrhiwiau, Clynnog, yr 
anifeiliaid o dan yr un to a'r teulu'. [There is still an old house 
at Penrhiwiau, Clynnog, with the animals and the family under 
the same roof.] Hughes and North 1 fìgure a plan of Derwen 
deg, near Conwy, which had a hatch in the partition wall 
between the house and cow-house, but this does not seem to be 
a modification of the normal long-house plan. An example 
from the literature has already been cited from Denbighshire 
where the type was also well-known, but where in many parts, 
rebuilding and restoration have completely eliminated the 
ancient types. 

It seems probable that a form of farmhouse widespread 
throughout the whole moorland area is a typological descendant 
of the long-house. In this type (plate 33) the dwelling-house, 
cow-house and stable are generally under the same roof but 
each is entered by a separate door from the outside and there 
is no ihternal communication of any kind. Several long-houses 
have been reconstructed in this form and the prevalence of the 
type throughout the area suggests that it originated as a 
modification of the earlier form. 

We have now examined 'samples' of long-houses from all the 
moorland area. In plan, all consist of dwelling-house and 
cow-house with internal access from the one to the other. 
In the majority of cases the fireplace is more or less central 
to the whole building, near the junction of cow-house and 
dwelling. Only in a small number of examples is the fireplace 
at the gable-end. In several of the houses, the dwelling ends 
in a transverse passage (with a door at each end) which serves 
as a feeding-walk for the cattle. This passage and the dwelling 
itself is paved. In almost all instances all the dwelling-end 
or the 'best' part of it (then known as pen uchaf) is above the 
level of the cow-house and approached by one or more stone 
steps. These facts must now be considered in detail. 

It is justifiable to suppose that the long-house in its earliest 
form was a simple shelter for man and his animals, the family 
occupying one end, the cattle the other and an open-hearth 

1 Op. cü., p. 35. 


íìre in the centre between them. Even though it has been 
traditionally held that the cows must see the fire and that 
'warmth increases the yield of mihY 1 it is probable that the 
convenience of housing the complete stock under one roof 
had much to commend it to our ancestors. In some other 
Keltic countries, this primitive form has existed down to 
recent times. Campbell 2 describes a one-roomed dwelling 
in Co. Kerry, Eire, with opposite doors. 'Either door is used 
as occasion requires in order to prevent the changeable winds 
from entering the kitchen.' He describes how today in summer 
in houses with two opposite doors, the cows are driven in turn 
through one door into the kitchen, milked and then driven out 
through the other, to make place for the next. 

Aage Roussell 3 has described long-houses of a similar 
primitive kind on the Isle of Lewis. 'Coming in from the road 
you bend your head and step in at the door in the middle of the 
long side, and find yourself in a gloomy byre. Just inside 
the door a pavement runs right across the house [cf . the Welsh 
penllawr] but immediately on its left is a step . . . down to an 
earth floor. This is where the cattle are kept on a layer of 
manure that grows steadily throughout the winter. ... A 
crude partition of boards reaching only to the height of the walls 
separates the byre from the "fire room", where the peat fire 
burns on the middle of the clay floor.' Here in the Scottish 
Isles is the prototype of the Welsh long-house. The raised 
pavement might at first sight appear to be functional : by 
raising the floor above the level of that of the cow-house, it 
would be possible to prevent the liquid manure and urine from 
running into the dwelling-end to cause the conditions described 
in the house of Heilyn Goch (above). Such conditions were not 
however unknown in the Isles. 

'There is no doubt' writes Roussell, 'that the original arrange- 

1 See for instance, Evans, E. Estyn : op. cit., p. 210, and Thomas, 
F.L.W. : 'On the Primitive Dwellings and Hypogea of the Outer 
Hebrides', in Proc. Soc. Antiq. Scot., VII (1866-8), p. 157. 

2 Béaloideas, V, pp. 68-9. 

3 Roussell, Aage : Norse Building Customs in the Scottish Isles (1934), 
p. 16. 



ment was the undivided house so that the cattle in the lower 

end and inhabitants in the upper end lived in one room.' 

Thomas indeed describes such an arrangement on the Isle of 

Lewis : 'A door leads into the main building which is entirely 

open through its whole length. About two-thirds of the lower 

end is occupied by the cows ; the upper or fire end is marked 

off by a row of stones. The fire which never goes out is about 

the middle of the fioor.' With the undying fire of the Scottish 

Isles should be compared too the Welsh practice of covering 

up the fire each night (anhuddo). 'For the fire to be allowed 

to burn out was a great misfortune which might have serious 

consequences for the family. On many hearths fire was said 

to have been kept burning without break for generations. 

This custom is mentioned in the Welsh Laws. The term 

benthig tân, "to borrow fire" shows that for the rekindling of 

fire, or in the case of new hearths, fire was obtained from what 

was known as tân byw, "living fire".' 1 We are here dealing 

with related cultures. 

The long-house was known not only in the Scottish Isles 

but on the mainland as well. In Perthshire, for instance, at 

the end of the 18th century, a commentator writes : T must 

add with regret that in several places, the houses . . . are still 

mean ; the farmer and his cattle lodge under the same roof . . .'. 2 

Robert Burns writes : — 

The Sowpe their only hawkie does afford 
That 'yont the hallan snugly chowse her cood. 3 

In Cumberland too, states Dickinson, writing in 1875, 'a 
century ago many sets of farm buildings consisted of oblong 
blocks adjoining the farm yards. The dwelling at one end 
of the block was separated from the outbuildings by a covered 
passage. There was an inner door opening out of the passage 
into the kitchen or living room and another on the opposite 
side into the byre ; and the passage was a common thorough- 
fare for men and dogs, horses, cattle, wheelbarrow, poultry, 

1 Jones, T. Gwynn : Welsh Folhlore and Folk Custom (1930), p. 179. 

2 General View of the Agriculture in the County of Perth (1799), p. 52. 

s The Cotter's Saturday Night, II, 93-4. I am indebted to Principal 
J. F. Rees, University College, Cardifí, for this reference. 


etc.'. 1 In brief, the housing of the cattle under the family- 
roof is an arrangement characteristic of the Keltic Highland 
Zone of Wales, Ireland, Cumberland and Scotland. 

Roussell, 2 Stenberger, 3 Campbell 4 and others have drawn 
attention to a wider distribution of the type over north- 
western Europe. Several of the houses on öland Island, 
dated about 300-500 a.d., are as Roussell stresses, 'pronounced 
long houses' and Roussell argues with much probability that 
some of them contained byres. In Jutland an Iron Age house 
was divided 'into a living room . . . and an outhouse and stable' 
with a hearth set centrally between the two ends. 5 At Ginder- 
up in Thy is 'an ancient settlement which has been used for 
several centuries, beginning almost with the Christian era' 
where the hearth is 'in the middle of one half of the house. 
Household utensils also mark this part of the house as the 
living room. Just as certainly is the other half the byre. . . . 
At the long wall there are stalls . . . numerous tethering posts 
[and] a halter which has been cut through when the people were 
endeavouring to save the animals during the conflagration that 
destroyed the house. That they were not entirely successful is 
shown by the fact that the byre contained the charred remains 
of two sheep and a cow. No trace of a partition was found in 
the house.' 6 In the same way, Gudmund Hatt's excavation 
of a late Iron Age house at Solbjerg on the island of Mors 
revealed an unpartitioned long-house containing the bones 
of three oxen and a horse. 7 The three-roomed gamme of the 
Finnmark Lapps of Norway are also parallel in type. They 
consist of a living-room, passage-way and cow-shed. 8 

There is therefore no doubt that the long-house, with man 

1 [Dicltinson, W.] : Cumbriana (1875), p. 197. 

2 Op. cit. 

3 Stenberger, Mârten : 'Remnants of Iron Age Houses on öland', in 
Acta Archaeologica, II (1931), pp. 93-104. See also his öland under 
äldre Järnâldern (1933). 

4 See note ( 2 ), p. 91. 

1 Roussell, A. : op. cit., p. 40. 
8 Ibid.,p. 42. 

7 Ibid., p. 42. 

8 Vreim, Halvor : 'The Ancient Settlements in Finnmark, Norway', 
in Folkliv, 1937, p. 188. 


and cattle under the family roof (as distinct from the basilical 
type widespread over the continent) was formerly found 
throughout north-western Europe from the early centuries 
of the Christian era onwards. Its strong persistence in the 
Keltic lands may point to its origin there but this can only be 
determined by further research. 

We have stressed the importance of the step separating 
the dwelling-end from the cow-house or in many instances 
separating the bedroom end of the dwelling from the rest of 
the house. In the Hebridean houses this step corresponds to 
the edge of the penllawr but, in view of the fact that the 
layer of manure in the cow-house 'grows steadily throughout 
the winter' it cannot be explained there as a simple method 
of preventing the liquid manure from running to the upper end. 
Instances are actually known where, due to the accumulation 
of manure in the lower end, the occupiers of the upper end have 
to keep their boots on until they are on their beds ! 

A similar raised platform was found in some of the Iron Age 
houses of Scandinavia. It is a matter of conjecture whether 
the raised platforms of some of the Welsh circular huts belong 
to the same tradition (see p. 43). What appears to be a 
similar arrangement is described above in the house of Heilyn 
Goch. There the raised platform accommodated the bed and 
corresponded to the 'platform' across the ends of so many 
Welsh long-houses, accommodating principally the bedroom but 
in later times often the dairy too. Professor W. J. Gruffydd 
draws my attention to a feature which has persisted to this day 
in most Caernarvonshire cottages. In his own home, for 
instance, in Bethel, Caernarvonshire — a house built about 
1850— with four bedrooms and a tiled kitchen, the tradition 
persisted of building on one side of the kitchen a raised platform 
of slate, six inches above the kitchen floor and about two 
and a half feet wide. On this was placed without exception 
the long-case clock and the dresser, i.e. the valuables of the 
family tradition. 

The word used in Breuddwyd Rhonabwy for the raised bed- 
platform is tyle. This is translated by Lady Charlotte Guest 

32 Ceín-hirfryn, Cynghordy, Carmarthenshire. Note the kiln-room 



33 Glan-'rafon, St. Harmon's, Radnorshire— a 'descendant' of the long-house 


'?* ,F 

34 Llannerch-y-cawr, Cwm Elan, Radnorshire 

- 7fV ?J : ' 

" ■:,'?..':■ 


35 The deserted countryside : a view in the Brechnoclcshire Beacons 
upland : note the sites of two former houses and the indications of 

former ploughing 


as 'couch' but it can best be interpreted as 'raised platform'. 
Its gender in the tale is feminine whereas generally it is 
masculine. Over a large area of Wales its one meaning is 
'hill, raised ground, mound'. With this should be compared 
Irish tulach, 'hih", which seems to be related (for -ach = -e, 
cf. imbárach = bore). Timothy Lewis's tyle — Irish tolg 'bed' 
must be rejected. Irish colg, bolg, correspond with Welsh 
col, coly and bol, boly not with *cyle and *byle. But tolg- + lle 
i.e. 'the place of a bed' would not only give the form tyle but 
also account for the gender of the noun in this tale, since lle 
used to be feminine. Safle, literally 'place to stand' and tyle, 
'place to lie', would then be antithetical nouns. In the Welsh 
Laws, 1 reference is made to a sow ar y thyle and partus suis dum 
sit ar e thele with the explanation '[in suili]'. It is noteworthy 
that the sty is generally raised above the sty-yard in the same 
way that the 'raised platform' of the house is above the 
remainder of the floor. It seems lücely therefore that the tyle 
referred to a raised platform (in house and pigsty alike) on which 
bedding was generally laid. This might be the shelf of the 
circular hut or the pen uchaf (in later times) of the long-house. 
It may also be that tyle, 'hill' (masculine) and tyle, 'raised 
platform' (feminine) are two different words, derived, as 
suggested, from different sources : but this is a philological 
problem which need not be further discussed here. 2 

Finally, a brief reference must be made to the fìreplace in 
the Welsh long-house. We have already remarked upon the 
practice of maintaining a continuous fire, common alike to 
Wales and the Hebrides amongst other areas. In the Welsh 
houses — except where modernity has introduced the built-up 
grate — the fire was always on the floor, generally against 
the partition wall separating the two parts of the house. All 
the cooking was done by means of this fire. The normal 
method (still not completely demoded) was by means of the 

1 Owen, A. : Ancient Laws and Insíituíes of Wales (1841), I, p. 454, 
and II, p. 77. 

2 For much of the material in my treatment of the word tyle I am 
indebted to Dr. Ifor Williams, who is, however, not responsible for the 
conclusions which I have reached. 


baking-pot with a flat lid, which for the baking of bread or 
the roasting of meat was encased in burning peat. This is still 
known in some parts of Wales as the ffwrn (oven). The 
built-in oven was not known in large areas of the Welsh moor- 
land until a comparatively recent date although it appeared 
earlier in some lowland areas of Wales which had been long 
under Norman and English influence : in the Vale of Glamorgan 
for instance, where examples from Tudor times are fcnown, 1 
and where the tradition of the built-in earthen oven persisted 
down to modern times. But such an oven of early 19th- 
century date recently removed to the National Museum from a 
house at Llandow, bore a Bideford maker's mark. Typo- 
logically, it is a true descendant of the Tudor ovens known in 
the Vale and the probability is that the tradition represents 
cultural influence from south-western England. 

Built-in ovens are shown however in most of the plans 
figured in this book. They are all of 19th-century date. In 
the description given above (p. 70) of a Llandysilio (Mont- 
gomeryshire) house the brick oven is noted as 'apparently of 
more modera construction' than that of the house itself — and 
this on the eastern fringe of the Welsh moorland. An observer 
in west Montgomeryshire, writing in 1887 2 and describing the 
normal house of the district states : 'Weithiau gwneid ffwrn 
hefyd ond y rhan amlaf crasid y bara yn y crochan pobi' 
[sometimes an oven was built but generally the bread was baked 
in the baking pot]. In some parts of west Wales, the bread was 
baked outside the house, often on a rock surface under an 
inverted pot, the fire over it being kindled from the straw from 
which came the grain for making the flour used in the bread 
baked. The gradell, 'griddle', also has a long history in Wales. 

For all domestic purposes therefore the open-hearth fire 
(with its bar, or crane, chain and tilter, together with its 
cauldron and pot) was adequate. Campbell has shown 3 that 

1 Peate, Iorwerth C. : Guide to the Collection of Welsh Bygones (1929), 
p. 81. 

2 Peate, David : op. cit. (MSS.). 

3 Béaloideas, V, p. 70. 


in Ireland too this 'pure hearth-type' is usual : 'it stands in 
direct contrast with the Middle- and, especially, the East- 
European tradition, where the stone-built oven completely 
dominates the fireplace, indeed, even the whole kitchen. 
Thus Ireland is in this respect the antithesis to Finland and 
Russia.' The same appears to be true of Wales until com- 
paratively modern times, when we find a convergence of the 
built-in oven culture with that of the open-hearth, the built-in 
oven being an importation from the English lowland. It 
should be noted too that in a large number of instances, the 
built-in oven is a feature not of the kitchen but of the back- 
kitchen, which is often a late lean-to addition. 


The Rectangular House : The Cottage 

It is no part of the purpose of this work to consider the social 
organization of the Welsh nation but a digression is necessary 
here to enable us to understand the reasons for the presence 
throughout the countryside of a large number of small houses 
(many of them now abandoned) of the cottage type which 
were occupied by small farmers completely dependent upon the 
land or by labourers or craftsmen who supplemented their 
earnings by farming on a small scale. These small steadings 
have long been known in Wales by the term tyddyn (plural 
tyddynnod) and the tyddynwyr — crofters as they may be called — 
formed in a very real sense the essential nucleus of the Welsh 
nation. Several of the long-houses referred to in the previous 
chapter belonged to this class but owing to their individual 
type they have been considered separately. 

The term tyddyn in the sense of 'homestead' appears in 
the old Welsh Laws. There it is stated in the Venedotian Code 
that four erwau constitute each tyddyn. In the Demetian Code, 
the youngest son is to have the principal tyddyn and eight erwau 
of land, while a similar rule is laid down in the 'Gwentian' 
Code. 1 We are not here concerned with the legal or even 
the social significance of the term. It need only be remarked 
that the holding was small : Ellis explains that an erw was 
theoretically 4,320 square yards in area. In brief, the small 
steading was a basic principle of ancient land holding in Wales. 
The union of Wales with England resulted in what Thomas E. 
Ellis has described 2 as 'the grafting of the manorial system 
upon the old Celtic tenures' and as far as any generalization 
is possible, this statement holds good, though it has been 

1 Ellis, T. P. : Welsh Tribal Law and Custom in the Middle Ages (1926), 
I, pp. 229-30. 

2 Royal Commission on Land in Wales: Minutes, I, p. 785. 



pointed out 1 that certain legislation (e.g. 31 Eliz. cap. 7 [1589]) 
encouraged the development of cottages with four acres of land. 
The practice of consolidation however, once the Keltic system 
had been officially overthrown, proceeded to reach its culmina- 
tion with the enclosure movement of the 19th century and the 
social organization and farming practice of the present century. 
We have already referred to this in general terms (p. 3). 

The Royal Commission on Land was given a large number of 
instances of this consolidation of which a few examples may be 
quoted. In fifty years of the 19th century about 120 houses 
fell into ruins in the parish of Llanycil, Merionethshire, only 
fifteen houses being built in that period. In the neighbouring 
parish of Llandrillo, forty-two farms were reduced to half that 
number in a generation. At Trawsfynydd in the same county 
fifty-one cottages, occupied by agricultural workers, fell into 
ruins and twenty-six farms were consolidated to form only 
thirteen holdings ; 2 it was not that 'the croft system has broken 
down', as Sir Cyril Fox has suggested : a large part of the social 
system traditional to the Welsh countryside was deliberately 
destroyed. The results were calamitous. They have been 
ably described by Hugh Evans in a notable Welsh work. 3 

A partial desertion of the countryside followed. Hundreds 
of the small steadings were eliminated : the houses fell into 
ruin and only isolated clumps of trees around stone heaps now 
mark the position of many of them (plate 35). The 'croft 
system' did not break down of itself — it was broken by a 
system superior in strength but which was alien to the whole 
Welsh tradition. Remnants of the old system have remained 
into the 20th century but, as Sir Cyril Fox's paper 4 has 
shown, the tyddynnwr today is fighting a losing battle. 'The 
life is too hard, the rewards too slight, the inconveniences of 
isolation too manifest' in a machine age which caters principally 
for industrial and urban organization only, the Welsh rural 
community being left mainly to fend for itself. As a result, 

1 Ibid., p. 822. 

2 Ibid., Report, pp. 348-9. 

3 Evans, Hugh : Cwm Eithin (1931). 
* Fox, Sir Cyril : op. cit., p. 439. 


agriculture and the country life have suffered : there has been a 
steady trek to the towns and the tyddyn is in danger of complete 

This brief statement is necessary to understand the nature 
and distribution of many of the cottages of Wales. The 
statement of Giraldus Cambrensis that the Welsh 'live not in 
towns or villages or forts but as hermits they frequent the 
woods' is well known. Except in certain lowland areas such 
as the Vale of Glamorgan and eastern Montgomeryshire which 
have long been under English influence, the neat nucleated 
village with its aggregation of old cottages is completely 
unknown. A characteristic Welsh community may be studied 
on the accompanying map (fig. 22) of a small area of north 
Pembrokeshire, where the local church is not (as is generally 
to be found in south Pembrokeshire or the Vale of Glamorgan) 
the centre of a nucleated village. 

The simplest type of rectangular cottage found in Wales 
is the single-roomed gable-chimneyed structure, where the 
occupants live and sleep in the same room. A 17th-century 
observer speaks of a Welsh cottage as 'a Dunghill modell'd 
into the shape of a cottage, whose outward surface was so 
all to-be-negro'd with such swarthy plaister that it appear'd 
not unlike a great blot of Cow-turd. This Structure stradled 
over about eight Ells of ground, above the surface whereof the 
Eves were advanc'd about two Yards, and the Chimney peep'd 
about a Foot above the Eves : the light flow'd in through the 
old circumference of a bottomless Peck ; which being stuck in 
the Thatch, supply'd the place of an Orbicular Casement. The 
Door-way was a breach in the wall toward one end, which being 
of a dwarfish size, i.e. two Foot lower in stature than an 
ordinary Man, we were forc'd to abridge our Dimensions and to 
creep in. The Parlour, Hall, Ritchin, i.e. one Room . . .' 1 
In 1800, at Ponterwyd, Cardiganshire, 'one apartment served 
for the inhabitants of every description, with one small hole to 
admit the light : the entrance unprotected by a door, but with 

1 R., W. : Wallography or The Britton Describ'd, pp. 17-18. 







•.:•:•:■••':• -:/. r ^. ■••.•• :;-':A oj | 
: -.;:;-.:oy;.-.'.-.-Sì olo 
:-ŴẄV:VìŴ:ŵ:j8! Ŵ 

• * 





/;."...Vi : :•-■;• V.: • 

:. : .:'. : ;V::.'."."-..::-: :;:•; . : ■.;....) • :\ '. \ \ /Vi:v. : . -./. •:•:.■•■ #■:•;: :/'-v 

■ •.•.■•••..•••;•• : : .——• jl . X ^aL-^» .'..." r L .. •...!... .... 

•.:••• •.•■■:.•.•.•.:•.••:.•; y^ ; M -^ — -7 /..••.•/■.-•.;• h. .•.■-.. , •.••.•;. 

'••'•••.••.•:•■..•.'•.• >• • I X / / /••.•..•.•.•-.•..•>(■• -v ■ -. ..- 

■•■•■•.•••.•.■•■•.••..•:■: •£:•""" S t*\s: * ' ''■■/: : •••' V. ■/^.^-•ŵ 

'.V fe:ẅv:^-:-^:ÿ^:'::;:;''.'''- 

*.- | ; '-\' v :•■•■••:•:•'.-. ■:■.'.'■'•.*>•' -■:•.'•• ••'•:-: ;•: 

•■'••■. : ' -'.'•' '.'■'V: ••'•'-' • •'•' '/*.'■*■- '•^•;'Ss:- ';':'''' ; .-v 

/•■.'•-•.■ .'.•..•.•.'.V' • • •• •*•'- ••' '■•••••'• •■*■»•.•""• 
':••.:••.;.■■.••. >-•:•.••: ••.■•••'••:•.-••.•••.••>.: 
■..'.. •. ••.••».* , - ■ -X- .'.■.• ••:•.■••..'■■.■-*.;•.: 












'ŴSSP*'* \ \''-'""""''.'. : /- v ■.'•••■. 

<:••••:-•■• •"■••••• 


Httue" NewcASrue" ph. a//i£ 

Fig. 22 A north-Pembrokeshire moorland area. The open moorland and 

tyddynnod are shown in red 



a blanket as a substitute'. 1 Hutton, in 1803, describes a 
cottage at Mallwyd, Merionethshire, as 'a miserable hut, con- 
sisting of one small and black room, the floor native earth and 
the sole light admitted by the door', 2 and at Dinas Mawddwy 
in the same county, he remarks that 'the inhabitants could not 
injure themselves by falling downstairs'. 2 

Describing Caernarvonshire cottages at the end of the 18th 
century, John Evans writes : The dark mud wall, rocky floor, 
and a few brown rushes, the family bed, suggested the idea 
of a den : the parents and their numerous progeny were 
assembled round a small fire of peat.' 3 At Llanberis, Caer- 
narvonshire, in 1806, the same type was evident : 'Dôl-tŷ-du, 
tŷ lled fychan un corn wedi ei doi â llechi : gwellt-glas ar y 
grib a rhanau o'r to. Yr oedd yn rhy isel i gynwys llofft.' 4 
[A somewhat small one-chimneyed house, slated ; grass on the 
ridge and parts of the roof. It was too low to contain a loft.] 

The Commissioners on Education (1847) give several descrip- 
tions of the one-roomed cottage. At Strata Florida, Cardigan- 
shire, 'the hut where the schoolmaster lived . . . consisted of a 
single room 12 feet square, without any other chimney than a 
hole in the roof'. 5 At Tal-y-llyn, Merionethshire, 'the house 
accommodation is wretched. The cottages are formed of a few 
loose fragments of rock and shale, piled together without 
mortar or whitewash. The floors are of earth : the roofs are 
wattled and many of these houses have no window. They 
comprise one room in which all the family sleep.' 6 At Rhos- 
llannerch-rugog in Denbighshire, there were 'cottages of one 
room only, built by the poor people themselves, an acknowledge- 
ment of from 7/- to 15/- per annum to the landlord as ground 
rent'. 7 The clod houses of Rhayader, Radnorshire, 'without 

1 The Cambrian Directory (1800), p. 78. 

2 Hutton, W. : Remarhs upon North Wales (1803), pp. 12, 18-19. 

* Evans, John : Letters written during a Tour through North Wales in 
theyear 1798 (1804), p. 162. 

* Williams, W. : Hynafiaethau . . . Plwyf Llanberis (1892), p. 70. 

6 Report, p. 147. 
» Ibid.,p. 63. 

7 Ibid.,p. 66. 


a window or aperture but the doorway and chimney' comprised 
'only one room'. 1 At Cynwyl Gaeo, Carmarthenshire, they 
write of 'a wretched hovel containing only a single room . . . 
and a floor of bare earth'. 2 Of the cottages of Brecknockshire, 
Radnorshire and Cardiganshire generally, they pronounce 'the 
cottages to be very little, if at all superior to the Irish huts in 
the country districts ... In very few cottages is there more 
than one room, which serves the purpose of living and sleeping.' 3 
At Raglan, in Monmouthshire, in 1893, a cottage is described 
'on the road to Llanishen . . . consisting of one room only. 
This room is 10 feet x 9 feet and the roof (thatched) rises at 
six feet from the ground. When the occupier came, the 
floor was simply a mud one.' 4 

Hugh Evans in his reminiscences of his early life in the 
Cerrig-y-drudion (Denbighshire) district shows how the one- 
roomed cottage persisted to within living memory : 'Un 
ystafell oedd y rhan fwyaf o dai y gweithwyr . . . Byddai'r 
simnai yn agored, y tân o fawn, carreg ar yr aelwyd, a'r llawr 
yn llawr pridd.' 5 [Most of the workers' houses were one-roomed 
. . . The chimney would be open, the fire of peat, a stone on 
the hearth, and the floor of earth.] I have myself seen such a 
cottage (now demolished) in south Cardiganshire. They were 
to be seen too at the end of the last century in Flintshire : in 
the Mostyn district, 'some [cottages] contain only one room'. 6 
Plate 36 shows such a cottage at Pont-rhyd-fendigaid, north 
Cardiganshire, in 1910. It will be noticed that there is no 
window in the hearth-end. 

But many of these single-roomed cottages were divided into 
two by the inhabitants themselves. This represents the next 
stage in their typology. Probably the Pont-rhyd-fendigaid 
example illustrated was so divided since there is a window in 
its further end, probably to light the bed place, the door 

1 Ibid.,p. 265. 
*Ibid.,p. 228. 
*Ibid., p. 56. 

* Royal Commission on Labour : The Agriculíural Labourer: England, 
Monmouthshire (1893), p. 70. 

5 Evans, H. : Cwm Eithin (1931), p. 63. 

• Royal Commission on Land in Wales: Minutes of Evidence, IV, p. 52. 

36 A cottage in the Pont-rhyd-fendigaid district, Cardiganshire, 1910. (The 
old lady is wearing a Sunday School long-attendance medal) 

I '. 

37 Pensarn-mynach, Cribyn, Cardiganshire. The central 'hump' in the 
roof is the chimney opening. The addition on the right (in stone-work) 

is later 

38 (ireat Mains, I.laeth<lv, Ka<lnorshire 

39 Ffynnon Goy Isaf, Llan- 
ychaer, Pembrokeshire : 
entrance into the croglofft 

Paradise Cottage, Leigh- 
ton, \\ elshpooì, Mont- 
gomeryshire : entrance 
into the croglofft 


lighting the living-end. The most usual method of such a 
division was by arranging the furniture — the dresser in 
particular — to serve as a partition between the living and 
sleeping ends. In the Strata Florida example, cited above, 
'a hurdle and an old chest of drawers' served as a partition 
'between this and the adjoining cottage' but this was probably 

The Commissioners for Education (1847) in their general 
survey of Brecknockshire, Radnorshire and Cardiganshire 
state that 'a large dresser and shelves usually form the partition 
between the two [ends] : and where there are separate beds 
for the family a curtain or low board is (if it exist) the only 
division, with no regular partition'. 1 Hugh Evans states : 
'rhoddid dreser a chwpwrdd ỳress ar draws yn aml i wneud 
siamber' 2 [a dresser and a 'press' cupboard were often placed 
across to form a chamber]. Culley in 1867 had referred to a 
similar arrangement in south-west Wales : ' . . . partitions 
often formed by the back of a box bed or chest of drawers'. 3 
F. H. Norman described (1867) cottages in Caernarvon and 
Anglesey 'of one room about 18 or 20 feet long by 14 or 15 
broad. This room is unceiled and paved with stones and is 
used as a living and sleeping room. It is generally partially 
divided by two box beds (i.e. four-post beds boarded on three 
sides) which are placed nearly across the centre of the room, 
leaving only a narrow passage to connect the portions of the 
room which are used by day and by night respectively. 
Although only one room, the cottages, with the furniture thus 
disposed, have the appearance of having two rooms, the backs 
of the beds being fitted with shelves, on which the household 
crockery etc. is placed.' 4 A similar arrangement of box beds 
and furniture to form 'two rooms' in some Caernarvonshire 
cottages was noticed during the course of the present survey. 

1 Report, p. 56. 
2 Op. cit., p. 63. 

3 Report of the Commission on the Employment of Children, Young 
Persons, and Women in Agriculture, 1867: Pembrohe and Carmarthen 
p. 48. 

4 Ibid., Part III, North Wales. p, 34. 


'In Tŷ Isa [Rhiw, Llŷn, Caemarvonshire] there was no ỳalis 
[partition], but the backs or sides of the four-posters acted as 
such' writes Mr. Ll. Wyn Grifhth. 1 

The next development from this stage was the cottage 
partitioned into two 'rooms'. In a mud cottage at Llithfaen, 
Pwllheli, Caernarvonshire, at the end of the 19th century, the 
partition was 'made of cloth'. 2 The Commissioners on Educa- 
tion (1847) in describing a cottage at Tal-y-llyn, Merionethshire, 
refer to the sleeping end as 'separated from the rest of the hut by 
wisps of straw forming an imperfect screen'. 3 John Evans 
(1798) describes a cottage near Barmouth, Merionethshire as a 
one-roomed hut 'divided by a partition of lath and reeds'. 4 I 
have myself examined similar partitions between cottages at 
Rumney, Monmouthshire, recently abandoned. Evans's further 
description is of value : 'The floor was the native soil rendered 
very hard and uneven from long and unequal pressure. At 
the farther end was a fire of turf, laid upon a few stones, near 
which stood a three-legged stool, a small cast-iron pot, some 
branches of broom tied up for a besom and a few bundles of 
rushes thrown down for a bed. These constitute the principal 
furniture.' In a cottage at Pendine, Carmarthenshire in 1847, 
the Commissioners for Education remarlc that the single room is 
divided by 'a partition of wattle covered with plaster'. 5 A 
partition 'about five feet high' is noted in 1893 in the Haver- 
fordwest (Pembrokeshire) district. 6 

The single-roomed cottage divided intotwo 'rooms'bymeans 
of a partition became widespread throughout Wales and there 
are constant references to it. 'One smoky hearth', writes 
Gwallter Mechain 7 'for it should not be styled a kitchen ; and 
one damp litter-cell, for it cannot be called a bed-room' was the 
ordinary type of cottage in Anglesey, Caernarvonshire, 

1 In a letter to the author, lOth October, 1937. 

2 Royal Commission on Land in Wales, Minuies of Evidence, I, p. 528. 

3 Report, p. 63. 

* Op. cit., p. 115. 
6 Report, p. 229. 

6 Thomas, [Sir] D. Lleufer : The Agricultural Labourer in Wales, p. 71. 

7 Op. cit. (North Wales), p. 82. 


Merionethshire and Montgomeryshire in the 18th century. 
Warner 1 describes a 'tenement . . . divided into two apartments' 
in Brecknockshire. Writing of Carmarthenshire cottages, the 
Commissioners for Education (1847) state : 'There are not 
usually more than two rooms. Cupboard beds are those most 
commonly used.' 2 Mr. John Davies, County Surveyor's Office, 
Horeb, south Cardiganshire, tells me that such two-roomed 
cottages were numerous in his county : 'most of the two-roomed 
cottages that I knew had a bed in the kitchen and in the 
"parlour" (or ỳen-isaf z.s it was called)'. 3 This reference to a 

Fig. 23 Pensarn-mynach, Cribyn, Cardiganshire : 
ground plan (length 33 ft.) 

ỳen isaf in cottage as in farmhouse should be noted, the lower end 
being the end not occupied for living purposes — the end furthest 
from the hearth. Plate 37 illustrates a surviving Cardiganshire 
two-roomed cottage : its plan is shown in fig. 23. 

A further development in this type of cottage may be 
compared with the development of the lay-out of the long- 
house. A part of the sleeping-end was set aside for use as a 
dairy (in the tyddyn especially) or a pantry. Such an arrange- 
ment was found at Great Mains, a small tyddyn at Llaethdy, 
Radnorshire (fig. 24 and plate 38). This house, occupied 
within living memory, was visited in 1936. It is of dry walling, 
roughly pointed in places, with a rush thatch and a ridge of 
grass-grown clods. The purlins of the roof are of rough unhewn 

1 Warner, R. : A Walk through Wales in 1797, p. 46. 

2 Report, p. 229. 

3 Letter dated lst November, 1937. 



branches. The one room of the cottage is divided by low 
boards into three — living room, bedroom and 'dairy'. The 
fìreplace is of open-hearth type with a wattle-and-daub canopied 
louvre above. Well-built cottages with a similar lay-out were 
examined at Glan-paith, near Aberystwyth, Cardiganshire, in 

The two-roomed cottage, whether the rooms are formed by 
the arrangement of the furniture or by partitioning, and often 
with an extra dairy or pantry, was common to most parts of 
Wales at one period and has remained to the present day in 







Fig. 24 Great Mains, Llaethdy, Radnorshire : ground plan 

(length 36 ft.) 

several districts. In addition to the references already dis- 
cussed, the type has been noted by Lleufer Thomas 1 in the 
English-speaking part of the Narberth Union, Pembrokeshire 
('they consist of two rooms only, each being from 10 to 12 feet 
square : there is generally no loft, the roof being open to sight, 
but there is a partition about 5 feet high to divide the rooms') ; 
the Llanfyllin district of Montgomeryshire ('many consist of 
two rooms only, a kitchen and a bedroom — chamber, in 
colloquial Welsh siamber — both being on the ground floor') ; 
and in the Ruthin district of Denbighshire ('by far the greater 
majority of cottages in the district have only two rooms'). 
The Report of the Commissioners on the Employment of Children, 
Young Persons, and Women in Agriculture gives many des- 
criptions of these houses throughout Wales, e.g. at St. Issells, 
Pembrokeshire (p. 114) : 'built of mud and roofed with thatch 
. . . two rooms on the ground floor from 8 to 12 feet square' ; 

The Agricultural Labourer in Wales (1893), pp. 85, 116. 

i*HíS\ìŷ6 3 

Fig. 25 Llain-wen isaf, Llanychaer, Pembrokesbire : ground plan 


Cellan, Cardiganshire (p. 130) : 'two rooms, many with only 
one' ; Machynlleth, Montgomeryshire (p. 133) : 'most having 
only two rooms'. 

Such two-roomed cottages inevitably created problems in 
accommodation. Rural families have always been large and in 
consequence, there were throughout Wales bad instances of 
over-crowding. The various Government reports of the 19th 
and 20th centuries all bear witness to this fact. 'Sleeping 
accommodation unsatisfactory', 'lamentable deficiency of 
bedroom accommodation', 'the gravest evil is the want of 
bedroom accommodation' — such strictures on the Welsh cottage 
appear throughout the many Blue Books. If these deficiencies 
were apparent to the outside observer, it is certain that they 
caused much concern too to the inhabitants themselves and the 
provision of extra sleeping accommodation gave rise to another 
development of the cottage-type which we have been discussing. 
This resulted in the bwthyn croglofft or cockloft cottage. 

This cottage-type in its Pembrokeshire variation has been de- 
scribed fully by Sir Cyril Fox : x 'the living-room [see fìg. 25] which 
is entered from the central doorway, through a short passage 
ceiled with boards, is open to the roof ; the passage is formed 
by the bedroom partition on one side, and on the other by a 
fixed screen some 7 feet high which keeps the draught away 
from the house-place in front of the hearth. The fire of culm, 
a mixture of clay and coal-dust, formerly burned on the floor, 
but a small grate has as usual been built in at a later date. 
The chimney being central to the gable, the smoke is directed 
inwards diagonally up the back of the hearth ; this renders 
the "chimney corner" on the further side in every respect a 
comfortable sitting-place . . . The recess at the other end of 
the gable is shut off from the kitchen by a wooden partition 
and ceiled "to keep away the dust". It is the dairy ... In 
front of the dividing wall between dairy and hearth — indeed a 
projection from it — is a small semicircular stone bench (y fainc) 
used as a stand for the washing bowl and for culinary purposes 

1 Op. cit., p. 430. 



The bedroom, as in all such two-roomed houses, occupies 
the other end. But here it is ceiled at a height of seven feet. 
Above it is a loft, a 'dark and airless triangular space' the 
floor of which is the ceiling of the bedroom. This constitutes 
the additional sleeping accommodation, which, by this simple 
expedient, is doubled without any actual addition to the house 
itself. The loft is reached by means of a movable ladder 
(figs. 26 and 27). Fox points out that in some of the north 
Pembrokeshire cottages which he examined the loft is boarded 
up so partitioning its interior from a view of the kitchen 
(plate 39). The north Pembrokeshire croglofft cottage is 
illustrated in plates 41-4. Fig. 28 is a plan of a typical tyddyn. 1 

I have indicated in this volume as elsewhere 2 that 'con- 
structional technique is largely conditioned by environment' 
but Fox has maintained 3 that 'this is not the case with lay-out ; 
such spatial relationships as that of dairy to hearth, so constant 
in our [Pembrokeshire] house series are, I suggest, not super- 
ficial or recent but ancient and fundamental, linked to 
customary procedure in the basic activities of human life. 
Differences in these relationships represent, on this view, very 
early cultural divergence. If this be true the Pembrokeshire 
cottages represent one of the many strands of culture which 
in the Dark Ages or earlier went to the making of the social 
and economic pattern of rural Wales.' 

I am inclined to doubt one detail of this view — that of 'the 
spatial relationship' of dairy to hearth. It has already been 
shown above that in the simple two-roomed cottage (without 
loft), the dairy often occupied a small part of the sleeping end 
and was in no way related to the hearth. An important 
desideratum of the dairy has always been a position which would 
give it the maximum degree of coolness. This is probably why 
in so many farmhouses it occupies the far gable-end, facing 
north, north-east or east. But it is also true that when the 

1 I acknowledge with gratitude the permission given by my Director, 
Sir Cyril Fox, to reproduce here his excellent drawings and photographs 
of the group of croglofft cottages examined by him. 

2 See Fox's paper, p. 438. 
a /òtd.,pp. 438-9. 



living and sleeping accommodation is limited, it is the dairy's 
position which usually suffers. For example, in some of the 
long-houses illustrated, the dairy has even been relegated to a 

Fig. 27 Llain-wen isaf, Llanychaer, Pembrolceshire : cross-section 

part of the feeding-walk, so as to free all possible living and 
sleeping space for man and animal. 

The same feature is seen in the croglofft house. Here we 
have the problem of sleeping accommodation solved by doubling 
it through the introduction of a ceiling for the 'chamber'. 
Consequently the dairy's position in that end had to be 
sacrificed. It went into the one recess in the living-end 
which it could occupy without the serious disorganization of the 

41 Llain-wen isaf, 
Llanychaer, Pem- 
brokeshire : front 

4'J Llain-wen isaf, 
Llanychaer, Pem- 
brokeshire : back 

4,'-i Carn-deifog iach, 
Llanychaer, Pem- 
brokeshire : a 
tyddyn in relation 
to the moor 

44 Carn-deifoü; isa 

Llanychaer, Pen 

brokeshire : intei 
ior, roof 



household — that near the hearth. That this was not altogether 
a satisfactory solution is shown by the fact that in the 
Pembrokeshire examples it had to be ceiled 'to keep away the 
dust' which would naturally be a problem near the hearth. And 

G- A R_ D £ N 

Fig. 28 Carn-deifog isaf, Llanychaer, Pembrokeshire : sketch plan of tyddyn 

to free the sleeping-end for its maximum use for that purpose, 
the dairy may be seen in fig. 28 not only near the hearth (the 
warmest part of the house) but also facing south ! 

It seems probable too that the croglofft development, with 
its ceiling and ladder 'stair', does not represent a 'strand of 
culture' from the 'Dark Ages or earlier' but a post-medieval 
development influenced (possibly though not necessarily) by 
the introduction into the normal Welsh rural economy of 
houses of more than one storey. In type and date, I believe 
the croglofft development to be comparatively recent. We 
shall see later one method by which it has evolved. 



Fox suggests 1 that this type of two-roomed cottage 'has 
a much more limited spread' than has the simple form and 
adds that 'as far as my knowledge goes it is coastal, and west 
coastal at that'. He states however that on such a point 
further information is necessary. 

The distribution of the croglofft cottage-form is not coastal 
or west coastal, although it so happens that it has survived 
in greater numbers in some coastal counties than in inland areas 
of Wales. No distributional significance should however 
be attached to this fact since it happens that those areas in 
which it has so survived have been less affected by rural 
rebuilding than most other parts of the country. 

Anglesey used to have a large number of croglofft cottages, 
several of which have survived : some were visited during the 
course of this survey. They are referred to in 1867 by F. H. 
Norman 2 as one of the three normal types in the island (the 
others — already referred to — being (a) a single-roomed cottage 
divided by means of furniture into two, and (b) a single-roomed 
cottage divided into two by a thin partition) : 'in a third 
class, this [sleeping] portion is divided into an upper and lower 
floor, access being obtained to the upper floor from that portion 
of the cottage which is used as a living room by means of a 
removable ladder. Although greater decency is thus obtained, 
the ventilation is probably worse in the cottages last described 
than in those in which there is no partition.' Lleufer Thomas 3 
adds to this description : 'There is a "cock-loft" over one-half 
of the house, and this is approached by a movable, or if fixed, 
very rickety ladder. Hardly ever is there any ceiling to be seen, 
a calico screen nailed to the rafters being found instead . . . 
According to a practical mason of much experience, the expense 
of building a cottage of the ordinary type with a half-loft and 
earthen floor would be about 50/., and a rent of from 21. to 
11. 12s. would be usually paid for it.' The cottages visited 
were not tyddynnod and the dairy (being therefore unnecessary) 

1 Ibid.,p. 438. 
2 Oỳ. cit., p. 34. 
3 Op. cit., p. 132. 


was not found. A Llanddaniel example visited (its exterior 
pebble-dashed) housed a family of nine ! 

A recent (1939) Government Report states : '[In Anglesey] 
many of the houses in the rural districts are in reality one- 
roomed cottages of the old-fashioned "Celtic" type. These are 
divided by light partitions into two — the kitchen and the 
"siamber" (chamber), and in some of these a so-called "grog- 
loft" (sic) (from the Welsh "crogi"— to hang) reached by a 
ladder, is provided by means of boarding stretched across at 
about the level of the eaves. These lofts are generally over the 
"siamber" but are sometimes over the kitchen as well. Some 
. . . measure about six feet at the apex of the roof to the floor, 
while the roof slopes down on each side to meet the flooring. 
The only source of ventilation and of light to the "grog-loft" 
apart from the door is by means of a small skylight which 
seldom measures more than 18 ins. by 15 ins. and which does not 
always open. ... In one of these cottages . . . the "grog-loft" 
was over part of the "siamber" only.' 1 

Caernarvonshire has several examples. The croglofft cottage 
is well-known in the Llŷn peninsula and has been well-described 
in a recent novel by Llewelyn Wyn Griffìth 2 which should be 
read for a faithful description of life in such a house. 'As you 
enter through the door, the kitchen is on your right : a small 
room with no ceiling between the floor and the roof. On the 
right of the door as you enter is a wooden partition, three 
feet wide and six feet high, to keep out the cold. On the left 
as you go in there is a wooden partition running up to the roof 
with two doors in it, one vertically above the other. Through 
the lower door you enter the bedroom : this has a wooden 
ceiling which serves as a floor to the attic above. To get to the 
attic bedroom you pull down a ladder which normally lies on 
the attic floor. These are the three rooms of the cottage.' 
Mr. Grifnth informs me 3 that the cottage described is Tŷ Uchaf, 
Rhiw, Llŷn. He states that there was a 'buttery' in the 

1 See the Report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Anti-Tuberculosis 
Sewice (1939), pp. 145-6. 

2 The Wooden Spoon (1937). 

3 Letter dated lOth October, 1937. 



recess near the hearth (cf. the Pembrokeshire examples), 'its 
floor raised about six inches above the floor' of the kitchen. 
He adds also : 'I presume that the palis [partition] is (com- 
paratively) recent so as to give a taflod [loft] : in Ty Isa there 
was no palis but the backs or sides of the fourposters acted as 
such.' In Llŷn — and indeed in other parts of north Wales — 

Fig. 29 Ty'n-rhosgadfa, Rhosgadfan, Caernarvonshire : 
ground plan (length 31 ft.) 

The stippled portion indicates the extent of the croglofft 

• the living room is known as y llawr (the floor), the bedroom as 
y siambar (the chamber), the loft as y daflod or y groglofft and 
the partition as palis (cf. French palisse). 

Ty'n-rhosgadfa (fig. 29 and plate 45) in the Rhosgadfan 
district of Caernarvonshire shows one way in which the crog- 
lofft has developed. Here there are two cupboard beds placed 
in such a way in the sleeping-end that it is impossible to have a 
dairy in that end. The dairy is, therefore, as in the Pembroke- 
shire examples, in the recess near the hearth but here by forming 
a small outshut the dairy has been enlarged. Another hearth 
feature in all the Arfon examples is a cupboard set in the gable- 


wall near the fire itself. Above the two cupboard beds a 
croglofft has been formed by placing boards across : it is 
entered by means of the usual removable ladder. Two cup- 
board beds placed in this position seem to be a characteristic 
arrangement in this district. Several houses so arranged were 
examined and it is tempting to suggest that one method by 
which the croglofft evolved was by placing boards across the 
tops of two cupboard beds in such a position. 

If such be the case, this would help to fix the earliest date 
for the croglofft development in north Wales : the cupboard 
bed in Wales is not earlier than the 15th-16th centuries, a fact 
that corroborates the suggested dating of the croglofft in Wales 
to post-medieval times. This placing of two cupboard beds in 
the sleeping-end in the position shown in fig. 29 precludes also 
a dairy in the sleeping-end, so that such houses — even without 
the croglofft development — may have dairies in other positions. 
At Llainfadyn, Rhos-isaf (plate 46), the partition between the 
two ends is formed of furniture, but here too there is a loft 
above, boarded, with a door. This house is of 18th-century 
date. An interesting feature here is that the screen 'to keep 
out the cold' is formed of a slate slab, eight feet high by four 
feet wide, and one inch in thickness. This type of screen, in 
wood or stone was a normal feature of all the two-roomed houses 
examined in north Wales. 

Hughes and North 1 describe a two-roomed house, Cymryd 
near Aberconwy, the earliest part of which, they state, dates 
'from the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century'. This 
consists of a 'hall' about 18 ft. by 12| ft. and a chamber about 
7 ft. by 12| ft. They think that the 'very small size of the 
latter seems to point to the fact of the comparatively recent 
introduction of a second room at that date'. Both rooms were 
originally open to the roof, 'but very soon after the house 
was built a loft was added above the chamber only, approached 
from the latter by a ladder and trap-door in the floor, the hall 
remaining open to the roof. At a later period the hall was 
half-covered by a loft and [later] was taken completely across.' 

1 Op. cit., pp. 16-17. 


Here therefore is an early example of a croglofft (approached 
this time from the bedroom). Hughes and North refer also 
to some other examples. 

Miss S. M. Grimth, of Tregarth, Bangor, informs me that 
the croglofft type ('tŷ llawr a siambar') was a normal feature 
in the parish of Llandegai. Here too a cupboard in the gable- 
hearth wall was usual and the 'loft was entered by means of a 
ladder which could be drawn up'. 1 In the Pwllheli district, 
'the majority of the cottages have two rooms downstairs, a 
kitchen and a "chamber" and a half-loft over the chamber. 
The newer cottages . . . have a complete loft over the whole 
house.' 2 

The croglofft development occurs also in Denbighshire, but at 
Foel Eryr, Bylchau, the half-loft is over the living-room and 
is approached by a ladder from the bedroom-end. In the 
Cerrig-y-drudion district (Denbighshire — Merionethshire border) 
Hugh Evans describes a clod house ('tŷ tywyrch') : 'Yr oedd 
yno ryw fath o derfyn ar ei ganol i wneud dwy ystafell, ac 
yr oedd y tad wedi rhoi croglofft isel wrth ben y siamber i rai 
o'r plant gysgu ynddi'. 3 [There was some kind of a partition 
across its centre to make two rooms, and the father had made 
a low croglofft above the chamber for some of the children 
to sleep in.] I have no evidence of it from Flintshire. The 
type is well-known also in Merionethshire. A number in 
ruins was examined at Rhos-y-gwalia, east of Bala ; another 
example (not examined) was reported from Cefn-ddwysarn. 
A description 4 of Dolgelley houses in 1888 reads : 'Of many 
of the cottages the accommodation consists of a down- 
stairs room, a bedroom, and a "half-loft" in the higher part of 
a sloping roof ; the garret being often unventilated, and lighted 
only by a glass tile.' Lleufer Thomas states 4 that 'in the parish 
of Llangelynin (1893) there is a row of cottages at Y Friog 
[now better known as Fairbourne] . . . [with] a "half-loft" 

1 Letter dated Ist September, 1938. 

2 Thomas, [Sir] D. Lleufer : The Agricultural Labourer in Wales, p. 149. 

3 Evans, Hugh : op. cit., p. 68. 

4 Thomas, [Sir] D. Lleufer : op. cit., p. 101. 


with sloping roof for a bedroom. "Wainscot" [i.e. cupboard] 
beds are used so as to act as partitions'. There were similar 
houses at Llwyngwril. 

An example of the croglofft development in the heart of 
the central-Wales moorland has fortunately been well- 
described. 1 This house was for some time the boyhood home 
of Sir Owen Morgan Edwards : 'Tŷ isel hen ffasiwn oedd 
Cae Rhys lle y trigent pan ddeuais i adnabod y mab a hwythau 
gyntaf. Y gegin fel ceginau hen dai Cymru a'r rhai a welid 
hyd yn ddiweddar yng Ngorllewin yr Iwerddon, a gwaith y 
lle yn olchi a chorddi (gyda buddai gnoc) yn cael ei gyflawni 
ynddi neu ynte ger y drws pan y byddai'n adeg i hynny. Yr 
enllyn a'r bara yn agos i law. Llofft uwchben y siambar dros 
un hanner i'r tŷ ac ysgol i'w symud a'i rhoi i ddringo iddi. 
Yr oedd y math yma ar dai i'w gweled yn fynych hyd yn lled 
ddiweddar mewn rhannau o Arfon.' [Cae Rhys where they 
lived when I came fìrst to know their son and them was a 
low old-fashioned house. The kitchen like the kitchens of 
the old Welsh houses and those to be seen until lately in western 
Ireland, all the work, washing and churning (with a knocker 
churn) being performed in it or at the doorway when the time 
was favourable. The 'relish' and bread near at hand. A loft 
over the chamber, over one half of the house and a movable 
ladder to be placed to climb into it. This kind of house was 
often to be seen until lately in parts of Arfon.] Cae Rhys is 
now an outhouse. It is illustrated here (plate 47) . The door on 
the right is a new insertion where a window used to be. The 
chimney has been removed. 

In Montgomeryshire the type was also known. Wigstead, 
describing a visit to a Llan-y-mynech inn in 1797, writes : T 
was accommodated with the state room which was a cockloft 
at the very brink of a step-ladder staircase. The tiling of the 
roof came very near in contact with my head while recumbant.' 2 
Llan-y-mynech is in the extreme east of Wales, on the Shrop- 
shire border. Bryn-mawr, Llanerfyl, with its sleeping-end now 

1 Gruffydd, W. J. : Owen Morgan Edwards, Cofiant, I (1937), p. 26. 

2 Wigstead, H. : op. cit., p. 14. 



much altered, was also of related type (fig. 30 and plate 48 and 
frontispiece). This house however is of central-chimney type. 
The fireplace is central between bed- and living-rooms. The 
house is of cruck-construction having one pair of cruclcs more 
or less central to the living-end. There is a loft over half the 
living-end reaching from the crucks to the far gable-wall, the 
entrance into it being formerly by a ladder from the cruck-end, 
facing the hearth. 

Fig. 30 Bryn-mawr, Llanerfyl, Montgomeryshire : ground plan 

(length 38 ft.). The stippled portion indicates the extent of 

the croglofft. The dairy and stairs are modern 

This is the only instance known to me of a central-chimney 
house with a half-loft. The house itself on the open moorland 
in one of the most inaccessible situations in the whole of 
Wales has the outward appearance of a long-house, the 
dwelling and outhouses being under the same roof . But there 
is no internal access from the one to the other. The screen of 
trees planted to shelter the house from the prevailing south- 
westerly winds should be noted and also the position of the 
building in relation to the slope of the moorland. 

The normal croglofft type was known also in this moorland 
area. Mr. Sam Ellis, Utica, New York, who left the Garth- 
beibio district many years ago describes Ty'nsietin in that 
parish as having 'cegin, siambar a bwtri fechan ac un llofft — 
ysgol ac nid grisiau i ddringo iddi' 1 [kitchen, chamber, a small 

1 In a letter dated 22nd January, 1939. 


buttery and one loft — a ladder not a staircase to climb up to it]. 
Mr. Ellis adds that an opening had been made in the house-wall 
to gain access to the cow-house so that here as in Anglesey 
(p. 65) we fìnd a convergence of the croglofft and house-byre 
types. There was also a screen 'to keep out the cold' ['i gadw'r 
oerni allan']. Mr. Ellis also mentions Bryn Chwilod uchaf, 
Bryn Chwilod isaf and Y Wern-fach in the same district as of 
a similar lay-out. 1 

A propos of these moorland tyddynnod, Mr. Ellis draws my 
attention 2 to details of the greatest interest showing the per- 
sistence of the open-field system in a part of the Garthbeibio 
moorland known as Y Waun Oer down to modern times. The 
Waun [lit. moorland] was divided between a number of farmers, 
each piece of land being known as a 'parcel' ('parseli'). No 
term such as acre ['acer neu gyfer'] was used, the land being 
measured in another way : the term used was 'the work of a 
scythe-man' ('gwaith gŵr a phladur'). The parcels varied 
from the 'work of two' to 'the work of ten men with scythes'. 
One parcel belonged to Rhiwfelen, Cwm Banw, the next to it to 
Llechog, Cwm Twrch, etc, i.e. the parcels did not belong to 
neighbouring farms. The 'boundary' between each parcel was 
formed by a narrow strip of unpared land. Mr. Ellis describes 
the Waun as 'tir oer mwsoglyd pislyd' [cold, mossy, watery 

But to return to the croglofft houses, my attention was 
drawn by Dr. R. D. Thomas of Welshpool to Paradise Cottage 
in the parish of Leighton, on the Shropshire border. This 
is a half-timbered structure, consisting of two rooms. As 
in the Denbighshire example referred to, the living-end is 
ceiled but the bedroom-end is open to the roof. The half-loft 
is entered by a ladder from the bedroom (plate 40). 

Cardiganshire and Carmarthenshire provide many examples 
of the croglofft development. Of the Llandybîe district of 
Carmarthenshire, for instance, the Rev. Gomer M. Roberts 
writes 3 : 'Yn yr hen fythynnod y cofiaf amdanynt yn Llan- 

1 In a letter dated 19th February, 1939. 

2 In a letter dated lOth July, 1939. 

3 Letter dated 27th October, 1939. 


dybîe, dwy ystafell oedd iddynt ar y llawr, a cheid croglofft 
iddynt yn ddieithriad, ac ysgol bren symudol yn arwain iddi 
o'r gegin. Nid oedd un drws i'r groglofft namyn y twll yr 
âi'r ysgol drwyddo.' [In the old cottages which I remember 
at Llandybie, there were two rooms on the ground floor, and 
invariably a cockloft, with a movable wooden ladder leading 
to it from the kitchen. The loft had no door, only an opening 
for the ladder.] In Cardiganshire, 'there still exist . . . some 
small, damp houses . . . two rooms on the ground floor . . . a 
room above . . . approached by a movable ladder'. 1 I know of 
no instances from Radnorshire although the two-roomed cottage 
was at one time common in the county, some of them with a 
central fìreplace that 'warms both the kitchen and the 
chamber'. 2 

A reference is however made in 1867, to cottages in the parish 
of Cwmdeuddwr, consisting of generally 'two rooms downstairs 
with a loft overhead to the roof' 3 but whether this was a 
half-loft cannot be ascertained from the description. Evidence 
is also lacking from Brecknockshire but a reputed croglofft 
cottage is reported from the Talgarth district. In parts of this 
county much cottage-building was carried out in the 19th 
century. 4 In Glamorganshire the croglofft does not seem to have 
been a normal development. The type occurred however in 
Monmouthshire. 'At Raglan, one [cottage] had a very good 
living room 12 ft. x 10 ft. with a small back scullery. The 
bedroom was about 2 ft. lower than the living room [cf. ỳen-isaf] 
and 4 ft. x 10 ft. Over this was a small compartment in the 
roof . Here lived a man, his wife and six children ; the husband, 
wife and three children in the bedroom, the three remaining 
children in the roof. There were no stairs to the roof apart- 
ment, the ascent being made from the living room by chair- 
backs or a small ladder.' 5 

1 Report . . . Anti-Tuberculosis Service, p. 158. 

2 Third Report of the Commissioners on the Employment of Children, 
Young Persons, and Women in Agriculture (i86y), p. 164. 

3 Ibid.,p. 164. 
*Ibid., p. 84. 

5 Royal Commission on Labour : The Agricultural Labourer : England : 
Monmouthshire (1893), p. 70. 


From this evidence, it will be seen that the one-roomed 
house, divided into two by means of furniture or permanent 
partitions and with a half-loft to provide extra sleeping-room, 
was formerly to be found throughout the greater part of Wales. 
It will be noticed that the normal position of the loft is over 
the chamber, but that it has been recorded over part only of 
the chamber, and in other instances over the kitchen. The 
tendency was noted in Anglesey to extend the loft over the 
kitchen as well as the chamber. This would be, of course, 
the logical development and the long rambling lofts over the 
long-houses would provide an analogy. The cottage partitioned 
on the ground floor and with a loft, sometimes divided into two, 
provided by ceiling both living-room and chamber, represents 
the fìnal development of the single-roomed type. Once this 
stage was achieved, its typological successor was the upper- 
storeyed cottage with windows above and below. 

The single-roomed cottage (sometimes partitioned) with a 
loft over all its area is well exemplified in Glamorganshire, a 
county which provides no surviving example of the half-loft 
type. In the mid-19th century, at Peterston-super-Ely, the 
'cottage accommodation is deplorable. It consists of old 
thatched buildings, very low, with one living room, a portion 
of which isgenerally partitioned off for a pantry, and a general 
garret or sleeping room for the whole family.' 1 At Llan- 
trithyd, 'most of them have one sitting [i.e. living] room with a 
pantry or lean-to attached. There is generally a good-sized 
upper bedroom under the thatched roof, which is sometimes 
dẁided. A bed is often placed in the sitting room.' 2 At 
Penmark 'there is a sitting room from 12 to 16 feet square ; 
in the better sort a small room on the same floor used as a 
bedroom, overhead is a loft, which is very rarely divided by 
a partition'. 3 Similar descriptions are given from the St. 
Athan district, Coychurch, Penrice, Llantwit Major, etc. 

1 Third Report of the Commissioners on the Employment of Young 
Children, etc, pp. 71-2. 

*Ibid., p. 73. 
3 Ibid.,p. 74. 


In 1893, Sir Lleufer Thomas 1 described the 'more common 
type of cottage' in the Bridgend-Cowbridge district as 'a low 
straw-thatched stone building with two rooms downstairs, one 
being a large, roomy kitchen where all the cooking, eating and 
washing is done, and where as a rule there is a bed as well. 
The other room is generally very small and almost always damp. 
Over these two rooms there is a loft, generally approached by 
a ladder with the roof coming down to the floor, and a window 
which cannot be opened let in to the roof. Too often this 
loft has no partition.' A feature of many of these cottages 
seems to be that the floors were sunk below the level 
of the ground surface. The type characteristic of Llantwit 
Major is described as a single-roomed cottage with a room above, 
'approached by means of a wooden ladder'. 2 This type was 
examined (1939) at Rumney, near Cardiff. Here however 
the houses had an upper storey with a window. The single 
room measured 15 ft. by 12 ft. The walls, of mud and stone 
were 2 ft. thick. A ladder led from the living room to the 
bedroom above, and the houses which were in a row of three 
were separated only by lath-and-reed partitions. 

This type seems to have been widespread in Monmouthshire 
in the 19th century : that is, the single-roomed cottage with a 
loft had developed into a cottage with an upper storey in that 
county — and in the Vale of Glamorgan — at an earlier date than 
in the uplands of Wales. This was a natural development 
since along this tongue of lowland, new ideas and new customs 
had spread quickly from the English plain from time 
immemorial. We are told that the colliery population of 
Blackwood, Monmouthshire, about 1840 retained the 'two rooms 
on the floor, one of them a bedroom' but there were also 'rooms 
above used as bedrooms'. 3 At the end of the century while 
some 'old mud-and-thatch cottages are found here and there' 
the average cottage in Monmouthshire had a living room and 
pantry on the ground floor and two bedrooms on the upper 
floor. 4 

1 The Agricultural Labourer, p. 47. 

2 Ibid., p. 51. 

3 Royal Commission on the Employment of Children (1842), III, p. 490. 
* Royal Commission on Labour : The Agricultural Labourer : 

Monmouth, p. 67. 


In the same way, the two-roomed cottage with an upper 
storey had gained a firm hold in the Vale of Glamorgan (plate 
49) although in many cases it was scarcely better than its lofted 
prototype. 'The general type of cottage' wrote the Medical 
Officer of Health for the Cowbridge (Glamorgan) district in 1893, 
'consists of two rooms, a bedroom and living-room. The roof 
is thatch and very often out of repair. The only means of 
ventilation to the rooms upstairs is through the opening in the 
floor by which access is gained to the room, the windows being 
invariably fixed and not having a sash for opening. Down- 
stairs the floor is generally made of mortar and is most uneven 
with large holes here and there, besides being very damp, and 
there being no thorough ventilation foranypart of the house.' 1 

To return to the cottage with a loft over its complete floor 
space, this type was also well-known in Pembrokeshire and 
west Carmarthenshire. It is described as characteristic of the 
Poor Law Union of Narberth by Lleufer Thomas. 2 Tn this 
class of cottages there are generally two rooms downstairs, 
which provide all the accommodation of the cottage. Up- 
stairs there is generally a long rambling unpartitioned loft, 
incapable of being utilized for any purpose except that of a 
lumber room as the roof which is neither ceiled nor rendered 
reaches to the floor and no light is admitted except occasionally 
through a window in the gable-end of the house. As there are 
therefore only two habitable rooms in most of these cottages, 
the greatest economy has to be exercised as to space and the 
beds in use are often such as can be converted in the daytime 
as to have the appearance of a cupboard or chest, with the 
bed-clothes folded inside.' 

In the Vale of Clwyd, Denbighshire, as in Monmouthshire 
and parts of Glamorganshire, the cottage with bedroom on the 
upper floor had been introduced in the 19th century. But 
here again it was little better than the Pembrokeshire loft. 
The then rector of Llandyrnog, writing in 1893, states : 'Where 
there is a room upstairs, there are no partitions ; beds cannot 

1 Thomas, [Sir] D. Lleufer : The Agricultural Labourer, p. 51. 
1 Ibid., p. 63. 


be partitioned off so that even grown-up children who have 
left the district, when they return for a visit, have to sleep 
in the same common open bedroom.' 1 A typical example of 
this kind in that parish had a bedroom 12 ft. by 13 ft. 

An old type of cottage in the Radnorshire-Brecknockshire 
district was described by the medical officer of the Builth 
district at the end of the last century. While it had bedrooms 
upstairs, the upper floor was little more than a loft. At 
Pentre-llwyn-llwyd a cottage, built of mud and stone and 
tiled with shingle had a kitchen 12 ft. by 10 ft., height 6| ft. 
It had an earthen floor, an open fireplace and one window 
15 in. square. A bedroom on the ground floor, about 7 ft. 
by 5 ft., had a window about a foot square : like the kitchen 
it had an earthen floor. Over these rooms were two bedrooms 
with 15 in. windows on the floor level. The walls were 18 in. 
high, the roof sloping up to about 9 ft. 2 

In parts of mid Wales, the single-roomed cottage developed 
horizontally not vertically, i.e. the building was lengthened 
to contain an extra bedroom, but in this development no upper 
storey was added. Peate 3 writes of the Llanbrynmair moor- 
land : 'Ni byddai ystafelloedd ond ar y llawr, a gelwid yr 
ystafelloedd cysgu yn siamber, siamber bellaf etc' [There 
were no rooms except on the ground floor and the bedrooms 
were called chamber, furthest chamber etc.] But in such 
houses, the calls of the tyddyn sometimes necessitated the use of 
one of the rooms for other purposes. Hutton, describing a 
house in the Dinas Mawddwy district (1803) 'of three low rooms' 
accommodating a family of thirteen, states that they were used 
'one for the day, one for the night, which held their whole stock 
of beds and one for lumber chiefly utensils for husbandry'. 4 

In Caernarvonshire we found a three-roomed cottage on a 
different plan. This was a central-chimney house with a room 

1 Ibid., p. 116. 

2 Ibid., p. 170. 

3 Op. cit. 

* Hutton, W. : op. cit., p. 23. 



between the fireplace and the gable-wall (fig. 31). It also 
contained a croglofft, the ladder for reaching it however being 
within the chamber and not on the living room floor. The 
walls of this house were extraordinarily thick — three and a 
half feet. This lay-out should be compared with that of many 
Irish houses. Kevin Danaher, 1 Seán Mac Giolla Meidhre, 2 
Âke Campbell 3 and others have described Irish examples in 

Fig. 31 Cottage, Rhos-isaf, Caernarvonshire : ground plan 
(length 39 ft.). The stippled portion indicates the extent of 

the croglofft 

Welsh cottages therefore, throughout the whole country have 
belonged, until modern building introduced new types, to the 
single-room tradition. The variations and developments of 
that type can be traced in all the thirteen counties. Very 
often the simple form — a single room for living and sleeping — 
and a more developed variant, e.g. the croglofft stage, could be 
found at the same time in the same district : no chronological 
development can be traced except that the fully-developed 

1 'Old House Types in Oighreacht Ui Chonchubhair', injournal of the 
Royal Socìety of Antiçuaries of Ireland, LXVIII (1938), pp. 226-40. 

2 'Some Notes on Irish Farm-houses', in Béaloideas, VIII (1938), 
pp. 196-200. 

3 (I) Trish Fields and Houses', in Béaloideas, V (1935), pp. 57-74, and 
(II) 'Notes on the Irish House', in Folkliv, 1937, pp. 207-34. 


upper-storey bedroom is everywhere a comparatively late 
feature. The cottages appear scattered throughout the country- 
side : 'congl rhyw gae, ochr rhyw ffordd, cesail rhyw fynydd, 
cysgod rhyw hen gelynen' 1 [in the corner of a field, on the side 
of a road, in the shelter of a hillside, under the shade of an 
old holly-tree] as one writer puts it. Often a large number 
would be found dug into a valley-side so that all the gable-wall 
or the back-wall up to the eaves would be in the earth. 2 

The Welsh cottage as described above in its partitioned 
form belongs to a well-known class of dwelling. It is the 
dwelling described in Chaucer's Nun's Priest's Tale, 'Ful 
sooty was hir bour and eek hir halle'. 'The simple cottage 
of which he was writing was the traditional English house, 
familiar in examples great and small, with its two rooms. 
The larger room was the hall, the smaller the bower or chamber, 
the first the main room of the building entered directly from 
outside, the second an inner and private room to which access 
was obtained from the hall.' 3 In its unpartitioned form the 
Welsh cottage belongs to a still earlier tradition, to a culture in 
which the privacy of a bower, well-developed in the English 
lowlands even in Chaucer's time, was not an essential feature. 
For parallels within the modern period, the cottages of England 
in general give us no clue : 4 we are dealing in Wales with a 
culture which is essentially different from that of (at least) the 
greater part of England and for close comparisons it is to a 
neighbouring Keltic land that we have to turn — to Ireland. 

To deal first with the type least represented in this survey, 
the central-chimney house, as described on pages 60 and 118, 
this three-sectioned lay-out is characteristic both of an Irish 
and a Scottish type, where a bedroom is regularly found at 
the upper end of the house behind the fire. Abernodwydd 
(fig. 6 and plate 9) with its sloping gable belongs with certainty 

1 Peate, D. : op. cit. 

2 See Cymru, 1907, I, pp. 141-3. 

3 Thompson, A. Hamilton : The English House (1936), p. 3. 

4 See for instance 01iver, Basil : The Cottages of England of the i6th, 
ijth, and i8th centuries (1929), Batsford, H. and Fry, C. : The English 
Cottage (1938). 

45 Ty'n-rhosgadfa, Rhosgadfan, Caernarvonshire 

46 Llainfadyn, Rhos-isaf, Caernarvonshire 

47 Cae Rhys, near Llanuwchllyn, Merionethshire, once the home of 
Sir Owen M. Edwards. The lower door replaces a window 

48 Bryn-mawr, Llanerfyl, Montgomeryshire : front 


to this type and Bryn-mawr (fig. 30 and frontispiece) too 
belongs to this tradition, but in the case of the Rhostryfan 
cottage (fig. 31) it is probable that the room behind the fireplace 
has originated as a development of the gable-chimney house. 
Since only these few examples were discovered it is useless to 
attempt any further speculation. 

The cottage in Wales corresponds closely to similar houses 
in Ireland in several respects. The gable-chimney house 
consisting of only one room was formerly as common in 
Ireland as it has been in Wales. 'The division of the room by 
means of the dresser may have been adopted at an early stage, 
the dresser being especially suitable as a kind of partition.' 1 
We have seen that the dresser, cupboard bed and other furniture 
were used in the same way in the Welsh cottage. The dis- 
position of the furniture in the Irish examples compares very 
closely with that found in Wales. 2 When the single-roomed 
Irish cottage was partitioned, this was done as in Wales by 
means of 'very thin wooden partitions, séleála'. In Ireland too, 
additional accommodation was often provided by building 
lofts. While such half-lofts in Wales were built at one end only 
of the house, and that generally the|sleeping-end, examples 
are found in Ireland of half-lofts at both ends of the cottage. 
Campbell compares this Irish feature with a well-known house- 
type in southern Sweden — Sydgötiska huset — which has the 
kitchen in the centre of the house without any loft and at 
both ends additional chambers with lofts. In Wales however 
such half-lofts are invariably found only at one end. In the 
Irish house as in the Welsh, the loft is normally reached by a 
ladder from the kitchen. 

Finally in Wales as in Ireland, the fireplace is of 'pure 
hearth' type. In Wales, the built-in oven is universally 
absent from the types described above as it was from the long- 
house. 'Owing to the absence of ovens', writes Lleufer 
Thomas, 3 ' "bake stone" bread is generally used' and he points 

1 Campbell, Á. : op. cit. (II), pp. 211-12. 

2 Ibid., see for instance figs. 1 and 4, pp. 214, 225. 
9 Op. cit., p. 85. 



out that even in modern (1893) cottages, ovens are not provided 
or suitable fireplaces built for their insertion. Indeed the 
cooking methods described by Campbell as characteristic 
of the Irish countryside used to be normal to Welsh rural 
districts too. When we come to consider the construction of the 
fireplace, the floor, roof and walls, we shall see how close in all 
details is the comparison between the cottages of Wales and 
Ireland. Undoubtedly the Welsh cottage belongs to a culture 
evident throughout the Reltic zone of the British Isles. 


The House of the Welsh Laws 

Now that we have considered the early circular structures 
in Wales and the two most widespread forms of the traditional 
Welsh house — the long-house and the one-roomed cottage — it is 
necessary to discuss the house-form described in the Welsh 
manuscripts as characteristic of Wales during the Age of the 
Princes, that is, before the annexation of Wales by Edward I in 
the 13th century. 

The principal references to the Welsh tribal house are to 
be found in the laws of Hywel Dda. Hywel, 1 the grandson 
of a famous prince, Rhodri Mawr, lived in the lOth century. 
He died in 950. He is known to have acknowledged Edward, 
son of Alfred and king of the English as overlord of Wales in 
918 : by 942 Hywel had become 'king of all the Welsh'. He 
now undertook the formidable task of establishing Welsh law 
and embodying it in writing. These laws 'elucidate the 
working of the tribal system more completely than any other 
documents of European history'. 2 

The Welsh manuscripts fall into three distinct groups 
representing three recensions of the original law of Hywel : 
they are the Venedotian, the Demetian and the 'Gwentian' 
codes. 'No MS. in Welsh or Latin preserves for us the original 
code of Hywel. . . . The nearest approach to evidence of what 
was contained in the first law-book is the consensus of all codes 
and versions, and there is, in point of fact, so much in common 
between them as to make this criterion not unserviceable.' 3 
The Venedotian Code relates to the north-west province of 
Gwynedd, the Demetian Code to Dyfed, the south-west 

1 For Hywel Dda see Lloyd, Sir J. E. : Hywel Dda (1928) and the same 
author's History of Wales to the Edwardian Conguest (new edition, 1939). 

2 Sir Paul Vinogradoff quoted in Ellis, T. P. : Welsh Tribal Law and 
Custom in the Middle Ages (1926), p. iv. 

3 Lloyd, Sir J. E. : History of Wales, p. 356. 



province. The 'Gwentian' Code has nothing to connect it with 
Gwent. Lloyd (p. 355) indicates that its reference to Dinefwr 
'points rather to Deheubarth' — south Wales. Wade-Eyans 1 
however suggests a relationship with Powys, the province of 
north-east and central Wales, and favours dissociating the terms 
'Demetian' and 'Gwentian' from the two codes concerned, 
substituting for them the names Book of Blegywryd and Book 
of Cyfnerth. 

The oldest manuscript of the laws (Peniarth 28) is in Latin 
and is dated about 1180. The laws appear to have been 
translated into Latin for the benefit of foreign bishops and 
abbots who came into the country. The oldest Welsh text 
(Peniarth 29) known as the 'Black Book of Chirk' dates to 
about 1200. The earliest manuscripts of Hywel's laws extant 
were therefore written about two hundred and fifty years after 
his death and probably contain some elements introduced by 
the recensors. This is indeed likely but it is also certain that 
the main kernel of the laws has come down from Hywel's time. 

The codes deal with the court, the king's position, his rights, 
officers, court procedure and custom, and the extent of homage 
due. Then follow details relating to tribal society in general, 
e.g. murder, theft, fire, land, animals, buildings, etc. It is 
with the references to houses that we are concerned here. 
Unfortunately these are not so comprehensive as to leave — 
without additional evidence — a clear picture of the tribal 
houses in the reader's mind. 

All three codes stipulate that the villeins have to erect nine 
buildings for the king : the Demetian and 'Gwentian' versions 
list a hall, chamber, kitchen, chapel, barn, kiln-house, privy, 
stable and dog-kennel while the Venedotian has 'dormitory' for 
chapel ! All the evidence points to the fact that the traditional 
Welsh house consisted of a number of separate buildings — 'tei y 
llys,' to quote Manawydan. This may account for the frequent 
use in the medieval poems of the plural form tai [houses] where 
'house' is meant. For example, Dafydd Nanmor in his poem 

' Wade-Evans, A. W. : Welsh Medieval Law (1909), p. xii. 


to Rhys ap Maredudd of Tywyn in Cardiganshire 1 : 

I'r tai ynghwr y Tywyn . . . 

[To the house (lit. houses) on the edge of the Tywyn.] 

or Guto'r Glyn in his poem to Sir Siôn Mechain : 2 

Y mae curad a'm carai 
I'm dwyn oddyma i'w dai 

[There is a priest who so loves me that he would take me hence 
to his house (lit. houses).] 

We shall see below that one of the characteristics of the later 
architecture was that it brought these separate 'houses' under 
one roof. This had doubtless happened when many of the 
poets sang but the use of the plural form tai often persisted in 
their poems. 

But the most important references forjjour present purpose 
occur in those sections of the laws which are concerned with 
the value of buildings. The houses of the period were naturally 
made almost entirely of wood : their liability to fire made 
necessary a detailed valuation which lists the various elements 
used in the structure of buildings. Ellis points out 3 that 'the 
Venedotian Code is clearest in its account . . . the Demetian 
and Gwentian Codes are confused'. 

The Venedotian version 4 divides halls into three grades, 
the king's, the freeman's (uchelwr) and^the non-freeman's (aillt). 
In the king's house, each 'gafael' supporting the roof ('that is 
six columns' [chwe cholofn]) was valued at 40d., the roof at 
80d. and each penthouse (godŷ) Ì20d. In the freeman's house 
the valuations were 20d., 40d., and 50d., respectively ; in the 
non-freeman's, 10d., 20d., and 30d. The unfree's 'penthouses' 
are listed as his chamber, cow-house, barn, kiln, sheep-cote, 
pigsty, summer-house and autumn-house. The summer- and 
autumn-houses are also valued separately. The valuation 
then proceeds to specify individual elements of the house : 

1 Roberts, T. and Williams, I. : The Poetical Works of Dafydd Nanmor 
(1923), p. 1. 

2 Williams, I. and Williams, J. Ll. : Gwaith Guto'r Glyn (1939), p. 275. 
3 Op. cit., I, p. 378. 

4 For the references to the Laws in the two following paragraphs see 
Owen, A. : op. cit., I, pp. 78, 292-4, 450, 486, 578, 586, 720, 772. 


large timbers (ỳren bras), doors (dorau), door-posts (amhiniog), 
beams (trostau), threshold (trothwy), fìreback (pentan), poles 
(ỳawl), rods (gwìalen), staves (cledren), etc. 

In the Demetian version each timber (pren) that supports 
the roof of the king's hall is valued at 20d., the roof itself at 
80aî. For the winter house, the following valuations are given : 
every fork (fforch) that supports the ridge-piece, 20d. ; the 
ridge-piece, AOd. The 'Gwentian' version values both the 
ridge-piece and each fork supporting it at 30d. each. The 
Demetian Code also stipulates that 'if timber be cut in a person's 
wood without his permission other than the three timbers which 
are free for a builder on fìeld-land', certain fees are to be paid. 
This is corroborated by a triad which runs 'three timbers which 
each builder upon field-land should have from the owner of the 
wood, whether the woodman will it or not, a ridge-piece and two 
roof-forks (nenbren a dwy nenfforch)' . 

It will be noticed that in the Venedotian version, a gafael 
is valued at 40d. It is further explained that in the king's 
house, the gafaelion formed six columns. In the Demetian 
version, timbers supporting the roof of the king's hall are valued 
at 20d. each ; forks supporting the winter-house roof are also 
valued at 20d. each. 1 What then were the gafael and fforch ? 

The word fforch (cf. Latin furca) is cognate with the 
English 'fork'. Innocent 2 has discussed its significance in 
architecture. He points out that in certain parts of England, 
e.g. Durham and Yorkshire, 'a pair of the ordinary bent tree 
principals is known as a "pair of forks", so that each timber 
is considered to be a fork'. We are, I think, justified in 
assuming that the fforch (or nenfforch) was a cruck — i.e. a bent 
tree principal — especially since in the Triad above, two forks 
are specified and since the gafael was double the value of a fork 
and probably represented a pair. Addy indeed (p. 27) assumes 
that the nenffyrch of the Triad 'are identical with the "crucks".' 

The word gafael is difficult to explain. The Latin phrase 
is de unoquoque retentaculo quod tectum sustinet. I have failed 

1 In the 'Gwentian' Code, the valuations are not on the same scale. 
2 Op. cit., pp. 36-8, 43, 65. 


to find retentaculum in any dictionary but its meaning is 
obvious — something to hold or support (retento — to hold fast). 1 
The native word for furca was gafl and one is tempted to see 
in the gauael of the corrupt manuscript of the Black Book of 
Chirk, the form gauel (= gafl). This gafl would be formed by 
the two crucks (cf. English 'a pair of forks'), the borrowed 
word 'fforch' (from Latin furca, cf. as an analogy the English 
usage) being introduced to specify each of the single elements 
of the fork — the retentaculum — holding the ridge-piece. The 
fact however that the Latin text of the Laws gives retentaculo 
for gafael disposes of this possibility. 2 

On the other hand, gafael (= gafl) might possibly mean a 
fork in the sense of a pair of crucks which form a fork-like 
support, the gafael of the one Code being equivalent to the 
fforch of the other. If this be the case, the differences in 
valuations have not the significance suggested above but are 

1 Mr. Evan D. Jones, Keeper of Manuscripts in the National Library of 
Wales, draws my attention to the fact that retentaculum is also used 
(Owen, A. : op. cit., II, p. 793) to indicate the pentan haearn (iron hob), 
which again 'held in' the fire. See C. Plummer : 'Glossary of Du Cange. 
Addenda et Corrigenda', in Bulletin De Cange Archẃum Latinatis Medii 
Aevi, II (1925), pp. 25-6. Mr. Jones informs me that in the Latin- 
Welsh dictionary of Thomas ap William o Drefriw (Peniarth MS. 228) 
retentaculum does not occur but he explains retinaculum as 'daliat, pa vn 
bynac vo yn dala peth' [holder, whatever holds something]. Thomas 
Thomas's Latin-English dictionary (1644 edition) gives the same 
retinaculum as 'any manner of thing wherewith another is staied or 
holden backe, a stay, the gable of an anker or anker rope : also the reine 
of a bridle'. Mr. Jones points out that Thomas ap William translated 
his definitions directly from such English sources, which explains why he 
overlooked the Welsh gafael and its Latin equivalent retentaculum. 

2 It is amusing to see Innocent, C. F. (op. cit., p. 60) assert categorically 
that 'the Welsh in their turn borrowed the word "gavel" from the Engüsh'. 
Two other words in English use may here be mentioned. The first is 
'gavel' used to mean 'gable, gable-end' in parts of Ireland, Scotland, 
Northumberland, Durham, Cumberland and Yorkshire. This, with 
'gable', is generally looked upon as derived from Old Norse gafl. The 
term 'gavel' may be cognate with the Welsh gaf(e)l. The second is 
'gavelfork', 'the meaning of [which]' to quote Innocent 'is . . . doubtful'. 
It is tempting to see in it the use of the Welsh gaf(e)l, the first element 
being explained by the second (cf. 'Masefield ' = raaes + field and 'Main- 
stone' = maen + stone). But the use and form as well as the meaning 
of 'gavelfork' are doubtful, and, since we are not concerned with it, 
the matter can be left undecided. 


merely due to regional variations. Here again the translation 
of gafael as retentaculum, in my view, disposes of this possibility 
too. In view of all the evidence, I incline to the belief that 
(a) two ffyrch formed one gafael ; (b) gafael here has its normal 
meaning of 'hold, grasp', the one 'hold' — 'retentaculum' — 
being formed of two forks (= cruclcs). 1 

If this interpretation holds, then the king's hall consisted 
of a building made of three pairs of crucks (chwe cholofn, six 
columns). Ellis describes it as consisting 'of three parallel 
rows of wooden pillars, two in each row. At a little distance 
from these pillars were rows of smaller pillars, the space between 
the larger and the smaller pillars being roofed over with beams 
and thatch or shingle, while larger beams, similarly covered, 
stretched across the main pillars, roofing in the centre aisle. 
The side aisles were occupied by beds and were partitioned 
off from the main aisle by screens during the day. The main 
aisle was divided into two portions, the upper and the lower, 
separated from each other by a fire-place.' 2 Seebohm has given 
a similar description : 'Six well-grown trees with suitable 
branches apparently reaching over to meet one another . . . 
are stuck upright in the ground at even distances in two 
parallel rows — three in each row. Their extremities bending 
over make a Gothic arch and crossing one another at the 
top each pair makes a fork, upon which the roof-tree is fixed. 
These trees supporting the roof-tree are called gavaels, forhs, 
or columns and they form the nave of the tribal house. Then 
at some distance back from these rows of columns or forks, low 
walls of stakes and wattle shut in the aisles of the house and 
over all is the roof of branches and rough thatch. All along the 
aisles behind the pillars are placed beds of rashes called gwelyau 
(lecti) on which the inmates sleep. The foot-boards of the 
beds between the columns form their seats in the daytime. 

1 I am indebted to Professor Henry Lewis, D.Litt., for drawing my 
attention to the form retentaculo and to various other points, and to 
Dr. Ifor Williams, F.B.A., for many suggestions and for confirming my 
belief that an equation of gafael with gafl here is unlikely. 

3 Ellis, T. P. : op. cit., I, p. 35. 

49 Cottage, St. Nicholas, Vale oí Glamorgan 

50 Gwrhyd Bach, St. David's, Pembrokeshire : a recess 



























The fire is lighted on an open hearth in the centre of the nave 
between the two middle columns.' 1 

Sir John Edward Lloyd describes the king's hall as 'an oblong 
structure resting on six wooden uprights, of which two were 
placed at the one end with the door between them and two at 
the other ; the central couple, having between them the open 
hearth, divided the hall into an upper section or "cyntedd" 
where the king and the greater officials sat at their meat, and a 
lower section or "is-gyntedd" assigned to theless distinguished 
members of the royal train.' 2 The cyntedd and is-gyntedd have 
already been referred to (p. 81), the division between them being 
the corf, 3 the central pair of crucks. 

While the Laws are explicit concerning the division of the 
hall and the positions to be taken up by the various officers of 
the king, there is no description of the 'aisles behind the pillars' 4 
and the beds with their footboards as mentioned by Seebohm. 
The fact that the chambers of some of the officers of the court 
were in the hall is however inferred from the texts. The 
king's chamber is referred to without any details of its position. 
But it is stated that the page of the chamber makes the king's 
bed of straw and 'carries his messages between the hall and the 
chamber'. This suggests that the king's chamber is separate 
from the hall. But on the other hand, the Edling, however, 
'is not to depart one night from the king' and 'his chamber is 
in the hall together with the youths of the bodyguard, the 
fire-kindler tending the fire and closing the doors'. 

It is mentioned specifically that some members of the 

1 Seebohm, F. : The English Village Community (1915), pp. 239-40. 

2 Lloyd, Sir J. E. : op. cit., p. 314. 

3 Williams, Ifor : op. cit., p. 131. 

4 The authority for this statement appears to be a reading of Giraldus 
Cambrensis's description (Descriptio, cap. x) of the sleeping arrange- 
ments of the Welsh : 'they sleep together, on a bed common to all laid 
along the sides of the house'. But the important fact is added that 
the fire was at the feet of all of them, from which may be inferred that 
the structure here described was a circular house. Rhŷs and Brynmor- 
Jones (The Welsh People, p. 200) indeed state : 'Giraldus describes the 
ordinary house as circular with the fireplace in the centre and beds of 
rushes all round it, on which the inmates sleep with their feet towards 
the fìre'. But they quote Seebohm's description of the aisle beds which 
seems to have been based on the same passage ! 


entourage did not sleep in the hall, e.g. the penteulu had the 
largest abode in the town, while the priest's lodging was in the 
chaplain's house and the chief falconer in the barn. The 
steward was to apportion the lodgings, his own being nearest 
the hall. It is therefore impossible, on the evidence, to 
determine who slept in the hall but it is certain that a number 
of persons did so, including the Edling or heir-apparent. 
Since the fìre occupied the centre of the main floor which in 
turn was set out for the formal occasions of the court, it is 
probable that the sleeping accommodation was in side aisles 
and that the description given by Seebohm, Ellis, Rhŷs and 
Brynmor-Jones 1 and others is substantially correct. But the 
possibility that the hall may have been a nave without aisles 
(that is, a simple cruck house) cannot be entirely dismissed, if 
we rely only on the evidence of the Laws. 2 

1 Rhŷs, [Sir] John and Brynmor-Jones, TSir] David : The Welsh People 
(6th edit., 1913), pp. 199-200. 

2 The cruck construction of the tribal house has recently been ques- 
tioned by Lady Fox in Arch. Camb., 1939, pp. 177-8, where she seeks 
to explain fforch as a pronged upright post and holds that such a house 
would 'necessarily be rectangular and central posted' . The evidence 
on which her argument is based is the Triad referred to above which 
specifìes 'a roof tree and two roof forks'. This, she states, 'makes clear 
that a "fork" is a single strut, not two tied together'. But it does not 
make clear that the fork is a pronged post : there is every reason to 
suppose, as has been shown above, that two forks made a gafael, a pair 
of crucks, while the reference in the Laws to 'pob gafael' and to the 
gafaelion forming six columns make it clear that the structure consisted 
of more than two forks, or two gafaelion. That the house was built of 
more timber than the three pieces mentioned in the Triad is evident 
from a clause in the Demetian Code (Owen, A. : op. cit., I, p. 586) fixing 
the prices of timber 'other than the three timbers which are free'. But 
it may be mentioned that houses whose main timbering consisted of a 
pair of crucks (not two pronged forks) and a ridge-piece (the three free 
timbers) were at one time common (see below, p. 186). I am unable 
therefore to accept Lady Fox's description of the tribal house, which I 
feel is based on insufficient evidence and on an incorrect interpretation 
of that evidence. 

Lady Fox further suggests that the aisled structure posited by Seebohm 
and Ellis, i.e. the generally accepted interpretation of the tribal house, 
which I hold (above) to be substantially correct, is 'on the English 
pattern' and 'based on a late, possibly Normanized version of the royal 
hall at Aberffraw'. It will be seen below that this statement is unten- 
able : the type is pre-Norman and owes nothing to either Norman or 
English infiuence. 


That the Welsh tribal house was of basilical character, 
with side aisles and a 'nave' is probable for two reasons 
other than the evidence of the Laws. The fìrst is that this 
type was characteristic of Britain in Roman times : it was, 
indeed, as Collingwood has stressed 1 'an early type in the 
Celtic world, perhaps established there before the Romans 
came . . . and superseded as the Romanization of the Celtic 
provinces advanced, by the corridor type. Its frequency 
in Roman Britain therefore is one of the many facts which 
show that Britain was a relatively backward area in civilization.' 
Such Romano-British houses — like the houses of the Welsh 
Laws — 'possessed buildings other than the dwelling-house 
proper. These generally consist of cottages, barns, stables 
and so forth.' 1 Collingwood and Ward 2 list a number of such 
houses in Britain. An example at Stroud near Petersfield, 
Hants. had its main block divided at first merely by two rows 
of wooden columns. 

In the second place, such houses were universal in Ireland 
where the type dates from pre-Christian times. 3 Richmond 
suggests as we have seen Collingwood do, 'that such buildings 
were not necessarily Roman but also part of the Celtic heritage'. 
The affinities in house construction and lay-out between 

1 Collingwood, R. G. : The Archaeology of Roman Britain (1930), 
pp. 131-4. 

2 Ward, J. : Romano-British Buildings and Earthworhs (1911), 
pp. 174-82. 

3 Richmond, I. A. : 'Irish Analogies for the Romano-British Barn 
Dwelling', in The Journal of Roman Studies, XXII (1932), pp. 96-106. 
According to The Times (2nd January, 1940) Dr. Seán P. Ô Riordáin, 
Professor of Archaeology at University College, Cork, discovered during 
the summer of 1939 a house of Neolithic date with four rows of post- 
holes. The posts divided it into a long central space in which the fìre 
was placed and side aisles 'which were evidently the sleeping compart- 
ments'. Since this chapter was written, Dr. Ô Riordáin has kindly 
allowed me to examine his plan of the house. The reader should also 
study A. E. Van Giffen : 'Der Warf in Ezinge, Provinz Groningen, 
Holland, und seine westgermanischen Häuser', in Germania, 1936, 
pp. 40-7, where excellent prehistoric examples of this type are described, 
some of them corresponding very closely in size and lay-out to the house 
of the Welsh Laws. The outside rows of posts here and in the Irish 
example seem to conform to the construction mentioned on pp. 56-7 . 


Wales and Ireland which the present work shows, at almost 
all points, give strong support to the belief that a house-type 
universal in Ireland from prehistoric times and well-known 
in Roman Britain must also have been known in Wales. The 
partial reconstruction made possible by the references in the 
Laws — in particular the presence of parallel rows of columns — 
leads us to conclude that the tribal house in Wales was the 
Welsh counterpart of the well-established Irish structure and 
— bearing in mind the Romano-British evidence — that the 
Laws codified in the lOth century are here concerned with a 
culture which of course was not confined to the present borders 
of Wales : it had European associations and was of great 

The form of the Irish house repays study. The plan was 
'undoubtedly oblong. If from nothing else, this would follow 
from the fact that there was a ridge-pole (cleithe). . . . The 
main frame of the house was of timber beams. The walls 
between the framing-timbers were of woven wattles, coated with 
limed plaster [cf . the references in the Welsh Laws to 'hurdles' 
and 'wattle']. ... At each end of the building, the two roof- 
trees were crossed at their apex and the ridge-pole was fastened 
in the Y-rest thus formed [the normal cruck method]. . . . The 
internal arrangements are equally clear. The chief space was 
taken by a great hall, very like the nave of a Norse stue and on 
each side there were partitioned bedrooms (immdai) containing 
one or more beds.' 1 

Richmond points out 2 that in the 9th century, 'a legal 
classification of society, conceived in much the same spirit as 
the Welsh Laws of Howell the Good' was prepared : this was 
the Crith Gabhlach which describes eight sizes of the Irish house, 
corresponding to eight types of chiefs. Probably a theorist's 
work, it may be compared with the theoretical classification 
of the Welsh house into three, the valuation and size descending 
with the social status. From an examination of this evidence, 
Richmond concludes that 'the aisled house . . . emerges as 

1 Richmond : op. cit., p. 98. 
2 Ibid., pp. 100-1. 


the regular type of superior house in ninth-century Ireland and, 
as has been seen, there is evidence that it goes back much 
further than that'. Richmond concludes that the Romano- 
British 'basilical' house and the Irish house 'represent the 
highest level to which Celtic housing, unaided by Roman skill 
in stone, attained' and draws attention to the similarity of 
the lay-out of the Scandinavian stue. He hints tentatively 
that the prototype of all these houses may be found in central 
Europe, whence the type spread into Scandinavia, Britain and 
Ireland, with the Reltic wave. 

The problem of such origins however takes us beyond the 
scope of the present study but it is perhaps permissible to 
point out that here again we are dealing with a type whose 
varieties appear to be well-established over a long period in 
north-western Europe. 

The houses of the uchelwr (freeman) and aillt (bondman) 
were built on the same principle as that of the king, but the 
valuations were lower. The references to hurdles, wattling, 
poles, rods, side-posts etc. found in the Laws are also of 
interest. These can best be illustrated by a remarkable series 
of drawings of an old farmhouse in the Strata Florida district 
of Cardiganshire which were published in 1899. 1 These 
drawings (fìgs. 32-6) were prepared in 1888. They represent a 
long-house, the upper and lower end being separated only by 
a wattle-screen. 'The family lived with, and in close proximity 
to, their domestic animals : the cow and the pig occupied 
one portion of the house, screened only by the lattice-work 
partition probably plastered with mud, the poultry occupied 
the lattice-shelf to the right of the fìreplace.' The writer, 
S. W. Williams, points out that 'the roof-principals spring 
direct from the ground instead of from the tops of the walls. 
Consequently, the walls are merely of use as screens to keep 
out the weather and perform no constructive function in 
supporting the roof.' It will be noticed too that the roof is 
strengthened by the use of upright supporting posts. The 
door-hurdle, poles and rods (dorglwyd, polion a gwiail) of the 

1 Arch. Camb., 1899, pp. 320-5. 



Laws are in much evidence. The fìreplace has a wattle-and- 
daub canopy and is screened from the door with wattling. It 



























is the dominant feature of the whole interior. The roof is of 
rough unhewn purlins covered with an underthatch of plaited 
rods under a layer of turf . The house was obviously medieval 



and may well represent the house of the Laws at the lowest 

^ .V. .1 '•' ul'" 

end of the social scale : all the elements are here, the cruclcs, 
ridge-piece, door-posts, door-hurdle, fireback-stone, etc. 
It is necessary here to notice briefly the importance of the 

142 T H E W E L S H H U S E 

íìre and the hearth in the Laws. Ellis has pointed out 1 that 
'the centre of social life was the hearth'. 'The central couple 
[of crucks], having between them the open hearth, divided the 
hall.' 2 Here was placed the pentanfaen (fireback-stone) 3 , and 
once it was placed in position it was an offence to remove it. 
'The house itself might be destroyed, the owners might desert 
the site . . . but the pentanfaen was never removed. It stood 
as a perpetual sign that the site where it stood was the site of an 
occupied homestead.' 4 

Campbell 5 has referred to a similar emphasis on the import- 
ance of the hearth in Ireland. He describes the fìreback-stone, 
the pentanfaen, in Ireland: 'Standing at the back of the hearth 
is one large, thickish fiag or often three or more stones forming 
the hob, iarta. . . . The hob constitutes a protection for 
the wall behind. In Eastern and Southern Ireland and even 
elsewhere the hob is built up carefully from stone and mortar.' 
He points out that this 'protection wall behind the fire' can 
develop in such a way as to constitute also two stone hobs (our 
modern pentan) on each side of the fire. In Ireland, as in Wales, 
the hearth has always formed 'the centre of family activity 
. . . the rallying point of the people. . . . The place of honour is 
the corner seat near the fire, where the guests are invited to sit 
down.' This compares in detail with Welsh custom down to 
our own times. 

The Welsh have always been primarily shepherds and herds- 
men and, as Rees has stressed, 6 their homes, 'situated on the hill 

^Ellis, T. P. : op.cit., II, p. 164. 

2 Lloyd, Sir J. E. : op. cit., p. 314. 

3 A. W. Wade-Evans's translation of pentanfaen as 'hearthstone' 
(Welsh Medieval Law, p. 278) is misleading. The stone was placed 
vertically behind the fìre, not, as 'hearthstone' suggests, horizontally 
beneath or in front of it. Richards (Cymru'r Oesau Canol, p. 129) has 
fallen into the same error. 'Canolfan y cartref', he writes, 'oedd y 
pentanfaen, y garreg aelwyd, ys dywedwn ni heddiw.' [The centre of 
the home was the pentanfaen, the hearthstone as we call it to-day.] The 
correct terminology is still maintained in west Wales, y garreg bentan 
is the fireback-stone, y garreg aelwyd or carreg yr aelwyd, the hearthstone 
immediately in front of the fire. 

«Ellis, T. P. : op. cit., p. 164. 

8 Campbell, À. : op. cit. (II), p. 230 ; (I), p. 71. 

6 Rees, W. : South Wales and the March 1284-1415 (1924), p. 217. 





■**r ■>? 

r 7 ir 71 

*ŴVw* *- 

54 A cottage at Selworthy, Somersetshire : note the form and 
position oí the chimney 

55 Rhydonnen, Gelliíor, Denbighshire 

56 Galeh Hill, Denbigh 

























slopes at the edge of the woodlands, as described by Giraldus, 
were eminently suitable for a pastoral life'. But in the summer 
months the herds and flocks were frequently taken to the 
pastures on the higher ground. For this purpose the summer- 
house was necessary ; this is the hafdy of the Laws, the hafod 
or hafoty as contrasted with the hendref or gaeafdy (winter 
house). Indeed, the Laws refer too to an autumn house, the 
cynhaeafdy. The hafod season in the Venedotian Code was 
from the beginning of May to August ; in the Demetian, from 
the beginning of May to September ; and in the 'Gwentian', 
from the beginning of May to the end of September. 

The Laws have no details which make possible a reconstruc- 
tion of the hafdy, but from the valuations, it is clear that the 
house was of a slight and even temporary character. This 
practice of transhumance however persisted throughout the 
ages and the many place-names testify to its former univer- 
sality. Even today, in the sheep-farming districts of central 
Wales in particular, almost the whole household of some of the 
valley farms moves into a distant lluest, a moorland house often 
several miles away, for the sheep-washing and -shearing duties 
which extend over several weeks. As an example, this is the 
practice of several valley-farmers in the Llanbrynmair (Mont- 
gomeryshire) district who with members of their families and 
their servants migrate annually for a short period to the high 
sheep-walks of the Pumlumon uplands. x\nother modern 
development of the same tradition of transhumance is the 
widespread Welsh practice of 'wintering' flocks, which have 
spent the summer months on the moorland, on the rich lowland 
of some of the valley farms often many miles from the holding 
of the farmer concerned. 

That the hafod persisted without much development until 
the 19th century is obvious from the references to it in the 
literature. Thomas Pennant, writing in the last quarter of the 
18th century, 1 refers to the Llanberis district of Caernarvon- 
shire : 'They reside in that season in Havodtys or summer-dairy- 

1 Pennant, T. : The Journey to Snowdon (1781), p. 161. See also the 
same description in the same author's Tours in Wales (1810), II, 
pp. 334-5. 


houses. These consist of a long low room, with a hole at one 
end [of the roof ] to let out the smoke from the fìre which is made 
beneath. Their furniture is very simple : stones are the 
substitute of stools : and the beds are of hay ranged along the 
sides.' He adds : 'During the summer, the men pass their time 
either in harvest work or in tending their herds : the women 
in milking or making butter and cheese. . . . Towards winter, 
they descend to their Hên Dref or old dwelling where they lead, 
during that season, a vacant life.' It will be noticed that both 
men and women occupied the hafotai. 

John Evans x at the beginning of the 19th century has a similar 
description of the Caernarvonshire practice : '[They] leave their 
winter habitations and take up their residence amidst the hills ; 
where they erect what are termed havodtai, or summer dairy 
houses, which are merely huts. A few stones supply the place 
of chairs and bundles of rushes along the sides are in lieu of beds.' 
E. Owen, in 1867, refers 2 to eight hafotai in ruins 'in various 
parts of the Llanllechid [Caernarvonshire] mountains'. They 
were known at that time by such names as Hafoty Coed-yr- 
Ynys, Hafoty Lowri galed, Hafoty Alis, Hafoty Famaeth, 
Hafoty un-nos, etc. 'Persons lived in these houses, if they may 
be called houses, for several months in the year to attend to 
their flocks of sheep and cattle, and in them they made their 
butter and cheese. They are excessively small, being composed 
of two or three small rooms and it is strange how even for the 
summer months any one could have lived in them. To the 
beginning of the last century [the 18th] these huts were in 
annual requisition ; in the time of Lhuyd they were in general 
use "about Snowdon and Cader Idris and elsewhere in Wales".' 

John Evans 3 had described at the end of the 18th century the 
habits of the mid-Wales farmers whose 'flocks like those of 
Estramadura and other mountainous parts of Spain are driven 
from distant places to those exposed pastures to feed the summer 
herbage'. He refers to farms and cottages in the Llanidloes 
district of Montgomeryshire 'which were only winter habita- 

1 Evans, J. : The Beauties of England and Wales (1812), XVII, p. 321. 

2 In Arch. Camb., 1867, pp. 106-7. 

8 Evans, J. : A Tour through North Wales in . . . 1798, p. 65. 

Fig. 36 Farmhouse, Strata Florida, Cardiganshire : interior showing fireplace 


tions'. Another reference to hafotai in Montgomeryshire (in 
1873) relates to the parish of Garthbeibio : 'In the higher 
districts of this parish there are several [hafotai]. The farmers 
in former times used to migrate from the lowlands into these 
dwellings and reside there during the greater part of the summer 
having their cattle with them and the things necessary for the 
dairies. It was then they generally harvested the . . . gwair 
rhosydd [moorland hay].' 1 

A systematic survey of the Welsh uplands would reveal many 
traces of human habitations and in view of the persistence of 
transhumance until a late date, many of them would probably 
show evidence of a long tradition of cattle-pens and sheep-folds 
all related to summer pasturage. Unfortunately for the student, 
the furniture and utensils used in such migrations to the uplands 
were of the most temporary character — probably wooden bowls, 
spoons, etc. — while most of the materials would be transported 
to and from the winter dwellings. It is likely therefore that 
even if the excavation of such sites were carried out on an 
extensive scale, little evidence could be obtained to estimate 
the chronology and history of transhumance in Wales. The 
practice, however, universal in the Age of the Princes, persisted 
in some localities in its original form — the winter hendref and 
the summer hafod — until the beginning of the 19th century. 
And in the 20th century a modified form of the migration still 
continues. 2 

1 Montgomeryshire Collections, 1873, p. 27. 

2 Sir Cyril and Lady Fox have described several upland structures 
found by them in south Wales. See Antiçuity, 1934, pp. 345-413 ; 
Arch. Camb., 1937, pp. 247-68, and 1939, pp. 163-99. The nature and 
purpose of these structures seem to me, on the evidence, to be still 
doubtful. But they may all have been hafotai. The position on the 
open moorland and the high altitude of all the sites — the Gelligaer 
examples are at an elevation of 1300-1350 feet — are the direct contrary 
to the siting of any hendre lcnown to me. In her 1939 paper, Lady Fox 
holds that one of the homesteads 'was not a hafod . . . on the evidence of 
the finds indicating metal working'. This in itself is not conclusive 
since the duties associated with pasturage were not onerous and provided 
long hours of leisure which could be spent in, e.g., metal-worlcing. 
Nor is there reason to suppose that the occupants of the hafotai did not 
include both men and women for in the 18th century (see p. 146 above) 

[continued on nexl pagt 



Certain houses mentioned in medieval literature may be 
referred to here. 

(a) The late Dr. Kuno Meyer drew attention in 1902 1 to a 
house in the Irish statutes, with four doors, through the middle 
of which water fiowed. He refers also to other Irish examples. 
Meyer then draws attention to Pen-y-bryn, Llanarmon-dyffryn- 
Ceiriog, Denbighshire, the birthplace of John Ceiriog Hughes, 
the poet. This house, situated on the gentle slope of a hill, had, 
when Meyer visited it, a small stream, confìned within a stony 
ditch, flowing through its cellar. He quotes Isaac Foulkes, the 
poet's biographer : 'The dairy is in the cellar under the house : 
and it is hard to imagine a better place for keeping the milk cool 
and fresh. A clear stream, that springs from the heart 
of the rock, flows through the room summer and winter.' 
Meyer reminds us of a passage in Tristan and Isolde, where 
Tristan threw wood-shavings into the stream that passed 
through the room of his beloved and considers this type of house 
with water flowing in it to be Keltic. 

This feature — a spring or overflowing well in a house — is still 
to be found in some parts of Wales. I have been informed of 
such a feature in several houses in more than one district in west 
Wales, for instance. At Pennantwrch, Garthbeibio, Mont- 
gomeryshire, Mr. Sam Ellis informs me that the pistyll (water- 
spout) was in the back-kitchen and the water flowed through a 
conduit under the floor. Dr. W. F. W. Betenson, Medical 
Officer of Health for Brecknockshire, informs me 2 that in the 

continued from previous page] 

persons of both sexes occupied them. The datable evidence on these 
sites is scarce. The terminal date for the occupation of one of the 
Gelligaer homesteads 'seems likely on the evidence' to have been in the 
fìrst half of the 14th century. It is shown in the 1934 and 1937 papers 
that at the Margam Mountain and 'Dinas Noddfa' sites there was no 
datable material found ; this absence of datable objects would be 
natural in a hafod. The excavation of a number of such sites is therefore 
desirable before their nature and purpose can be ascertained with any 
certainty. The problematical character of the structures precludes any 
further discussion of them in this book. 

1 In Zeitschrift für Romanische Philologie, XXVI (1902), pp. 716-7. 

2 In a letter dated 5th February, 1938. 


district of Cwm-nant-gam, Llanelly Hill near Bryn-mawr, in that 
county 'is quite a solidly-built terrace of houses on the hillside 
and two of these, to my certain knowledge, have wells inside 
and I rather think that the whole terrace is similarly built. . . . 
When the well gets particularly full in the rainy season it over- 
flows and the water is liable to run out of the front door.' 
Dr. Betenson described such houses before the Committee of 
Inquiry into the Anti-Tuberculosis Service in Wales and 
Monmouthshire : l 'There were wells in the middle of the 
houses between the front and back rooms. In one house, the 
well was big enough for a baby to fall into, and, in another, an 
adult could have bathed in it. He said that the opening to the 
well resembled the entrance into a dog kennel.' 

Whether these houses represent the survival of the old 
tradition discussed by Kuno Meyer is a matter for conjecture. 
They are noted here in the hope that their characteristics and 
the distribution of the type — if, indeed, it be a type — may be 
studied more closely by future workers. 

(b) Iolo Goch, a 14th-century poet, 2 has a poem describing 3 

the hall of the Welsh leader, Owain Glyn Dŵr, at Sycharth, 

which was burnt down at the beginning of the 15th century. 4 

The poem awaits translation by a competent literary and 

architectural scholar. Sycharth was a motte-and-bailey site, 

the house being of timber. The references to cyplau (couples) : 

Cyplau sydd, gwaith cwplws ŷnt, 
Cwpledig bob cwpl ydynt. 

[It has couples, they are tied, each couple tied together.] 
indicate the nature of the roof, while 

Tŷ pren glân mewn top bryn glas 
Ar bedwar piler eres 

[A fair wooden house on the crest of a green hill, upon four 
wondrous pillars.] 

suggests that here we have an example of a framed building of 
post-and-truss type, not a cruck building. The poem mentions 

1 Report, p. 149. 

2 For a study of his dates, etc, see Lewis, H., Roberts, T., and 
Williams, I. : Cywyddau Iolo Goch ac Eraill, 13 50-1 450 (1925). 

3 Ibid., pp. 41-4.' 

4 Richards, R. : op. cit., p. 318. 


also eight upper rooms, a tiled roof, a chimney, and nine 
'wardrobes'. The house must therefore have reflected to a 
high degree the Norman and English developments in 

(c) Two poems describing houses, written by Howel Davi, a 

native of Brecknockshire, of 15th-century date, were published 

in 1918. 1 One house has a 

Simnai sgwar val tai m haris . . . 
Maint llong yn y mantell hi 
Main nadd or tu mewn iddi 

[square chimney like houses in Paris. . . . the size of a ship 

in its mantel, hewn stone inside it]. 

He speaks also of 

bwrw swnd a beris yndi 
briwio kalch hyt y bric hi 

[its interior is sanded, lime has been ground over its roof]. 
The other house described has 

Ar y vric keric kwarel 

[on its roof quarry stone] . 

gwalau megis mvryav mon 
gwewyt trwyddynt goet rvddyon 

[walls like the walls of Anglesey (i.e. white) : timber was woven 
through them] — probably a description of the 'black-and-white' 

There are several references to and descriptions of houses 
incidental in the literature of the 15th-17th centuries, of which 
the above may be taken merely as examples. But unfor- 
tunately most of the material has not been published. 

(d) Guto'r Glyn, a mid-15th century poet, has a description 

of the house of Sir Siôn Mechain, who was vicar of Llandrinio, 

Montgomeryshire. He describes it as 

Neuadd hir newydd yw hon 
Nawty'n un a'r tai'n wynion : 
Cerrig, ar frig awyr fry, 
Cornatun yn cau'r nawty 

» Roberts, E. Stanton : Peniarth MS. 67 (1918), pp. 70-1, 99-101. 


Lwfer ni ad lif o'r nen 

A chroeslofft deg a chryslen . . . 

Plas teilys . . .* 

[A new long hall is this, nine houses in one and all white. 
Corndon stone on the roof closing the nine houses. A louvre 
prevents a downpour from the heavens and a fair crossloft 
with a screen. ... A tiled palace . . .] 

The reference to nine houses should be noticed, and compared 
with the nine houses of the Laws (p. 130). Here in the nor- 
manized architectural style of the middle ages the nine separate 
'houses' of the old Welsh tradition have been brought together 
under one roof. 

In another poem he describes a mansion, Coldbrook, Mon- 
mouthshire. Here again 

Mae obry naw tŷ'n y tŵr 

[There are below nine houses in the tower.] 


Mae fry ganty ac untwr. 
Tref fawr mewn pentwr o fain 
Tŷ beichiog o'r tai bychain. 
Ei gaerau yw'r graig eurin, 
Ei grib sy goch fel grâps gwin. 

[Above there are a hundred houses and one tower. A large 
town in a heap of stone, a house laden with small houses. 
The golden rock is its walls, its ridge is red like wine-grapes.] 

In a third poem, another Montgomeryshire house is 

described : here again are the inevitable nine houses : 

Yntŵy a wnaeth naw tŷ'n un, 
I'r nawty yr awn atun. 

[They made nine houses into one, we shall go to them to the nine 

1 For Guto'r Glyn's poems, see Williams, I., and Williams, J. Ll. : 
Gwaith Guto'r Glyn (1939), pp. 109-11, 132-4, 275-6. See also Mont. 
Coll., 1904, pp. 151-2. Corndon (Welsh, Cornatun) Hill is just within 
Montgomeryshire on the Shropshire border. Its quarried stone is well- 
known and this 15th-century reference to its use for tihng purposes 
proves that the quarries have been worked over a long period. I am 
indebted— indirectly — to Sir John Edward Lloyd for this reference. 


(e) A description of Cae Du, Llansannan, Denbighshire, was 
published in 1910. 1 The description, here translated from the 
Welsh, runs as follows : 'The old house stands with its gable 
to the lane, and its wall on that side deep in the earth, while 
the lower gable, because of the slope, well above the ground- 
level, and its floor high enough to form a cellar at that end. 
The old house had three rooms on the ground floor and two up, 
as well as the cellar already mentioned, and the famous little 
room in the chimney, where Salesbury is said to have translated 
the New Testament. 

The overall length of the building was about 72 (? 52) ft., 
and its breadth from wall to wall about 14 ft. The fìrst 
room was about 9 ft. long, but it had no fireplace and stood 
deep in the earth. The next, the central room, was the 
principal room, and measured 16 ft. : in it was the hearth and 
chimney. The two rooms were separated by a stone partition 
reaching to the roof and a wide mantel thrown out over the 
hearth also reached to the roof . There was no loft above the first 
room,buttherewasone above theother two, and a small room 
formed in the chimney between the mantel (or the partition- 
wall above the mantel) to the end wall of the room, and above 
the hearth. The loft above the lcitchen was therefore smaller 
than the kitchen by the width of the chimney. There was no 
door from the principal bedroom into this small room, and no 
one could imagine that the room existed : the only entrance 
into it was by climbing up through the chimney. And this is 
the kind of place — the secret or sacred chamber as it can well be 
called — where was performed the holy work which gave the 
house such fame.' 

(/) The Black Book of St. David's, 'an Extent of all the 
lands and rents' of the Lord Bishop of St. David's made in 
1326 2 has references to medieval custom which show the 
persistence in modified form in the 14th century of some of the 
arrangements described in the Laws. For instance, 'they 

1 Jones, R. W. : Hanes hen furddynod plwyf Llansannan (1910), 
pp. 24-5. 

2 Willis-Bund, J. W. : The Black Book of St. David's (1902). 


ought to carry the heavy materials which cannot be drawn by 
one horse from the forest of Atp[ar] to the Manor of Landogy 
for building fìve houses there, namely the Hall, the chamber 
of the Lord, his kitchen, stable and grange, at their own cost': 1 
which again should be compared with the nine buildings of the 
Laws which the villeins had to erect for the king. There are 
also several references to the use of wattle and wood, and to 
numerous buildings both of wood and of stone. Unfortunately 
none is described. 

1 Ibid.,p. 201. 


Some Stone and Half-Timbered Houses 

Reference has been made to the use of stone in various 
parts of Wales for building purposes. It is beyond the scope of 
the present work, however, to deal with all stone-built houses 
throughout Wales. Such a study would involve a parish-by- 
parish survey of great length and detail which can only be 
accomplished in future years and would involve issues wider 
than those with which we are at present concerned, e.g. a 
treatment of manor houses, castles, etc. — in short, a sophis- 
ticated tradition other than the 'unconscious artistry' of the 
folk-builder. On the other hand, the folk-builder has used 
stone as his medium, when there is a plentiful supply, to 
produce long-houses and cottages whose lay-outs do not differ 
in any fundamental way from those built of mud or other 
materials. This aspect of the subject is dealt with in Chapter 

In Pembrokeshire, however, a type of stone house has been 
evolved which is so individual and so different from houses 
in other parts of Wales that it deserves separate treatment 
here. Pembrokeshire has a large number of houses of a well- 
built and sturdy character. 'No district of the Principality', 
writes Barnwell 1 of south Pembrokeshire, 'is richer in castles, 
churches or houses.' He lists the castles of Haverfordwest, 
Picton, Wiston and Narberth, the 'episcopal castle' of Llaw- 
haden and the commandery of Slebech, and proceeds to 
enumerate Wolf's Castle, Roche Castle, and the castles of 
Amroth, Tenby, Manorbier, Castle Martin, Walwyn's Castle, 
Benton, Upton and Carew with the great fortress of Pembroke 
over all. 'So completely fortified was the whole district that 
even the churches with their vaulted roofs and lofty towers' 

1 Barnwell, E. L. : 'Domestic Architecture of South Pembrolceshire', 
in Arch. Camb., 1867, p. 193. 




seem to have been adapted for defence. The large country 
houses — Eastington, Bonville Court, etc. — showed the same 


strength of structure and many of the structural characteristics 
of the castle-buildings. 



One such characteristic is the massive round chimney which 
has been popularly. considered for many years to be of Flemish 
origin, the work of the Flemish colony settled in part of Pem- 
brokeshire in the time of Henry I. Barnwell and others have 
completely disposed of this theory. The round chimney is 
found in some of the Pembrokeshire castles (e.g. Manorbier) : 
it occurs in houses at Tenby and its district, e.g. Drusselton and 

Fig. 38 Llaethdy, St. David's, Pembrokeshire : cross-section 

Bubbington), Manorbier, Pembroke (Monkton), Templeton, 
Lamphey, St. Florence and in (formerly) a large number of 
farmhouses in the St. David's district. The distribution of 
this feature does not therefore coincide with the boundaries 
of the Flemish colony. Barnwell's conclusion is reasonable : 
Tf not actually Norman, they are imitations of Norman ; the 
form was well-suited to the kind of stone at hand and having 
once got into the fashion, continued so to a late period.' 

This Pembrokeshire type, as it may well be called, is best 
illustrated in the farmhouses of the St. David's district. 
These have been admirably described by the late J. Romilly 



Allen in an extensive paper published in 1902. 1 His records 
were made in 1883 : when his paper was published several of 
the houses had been 'swept away to make room for modern 

Fig. 39 Porch and doorway, Llaethdy, St. David's, Pembrokeshire 

improvements'. He adds : T did not anticipate that the 
process of demolition, once begun, would go on so quickly as 
to prevent my ever being able to correct the observations I 
made twenty years ago.' The present writer was enabled to 

1 Allen, J. Romilly : 'Old Farm-Houses with round chimneys near 
St. David's', in Arch. Camb., 1902, pp. 1-24. 



spend several days in the area during the course of the present 
survey. It was then found that a still greater number had 
disappeared since Romilly Allen's paper was published and of 
the few remaining examples, some had been much renovated 
and altered. Clegyr Foea, Hendre Einon, Rhoson and Pwll- 

Fig. 40 Round chimney, Llaethdy, St. David's, Pembrokeshire 

caerog still remain, some in altered form, while to the list should 
be added Tref Elydr and Croftufty. 1 The present description 
is therefore based to a great extent upon Romilly Allen's 
detailed account, the illustrations being those which accom- 
panied his paper. 

These farmhouses have certain peculiarities of ground plan 
and construction. In nearly all cases they have a central 
passage (figs. 37, 41) about 4 ft. wide with the front door at one 

1 I am indebted to Mr. J. J. Evans, M.A., St. David's, for much informa- 
tion and for drawing my attention to references in The Black Book of 
St, Davìds (1326) to 'the mill at Poulthcauok' (p. 13), *Pwllcauerok' 
(p. 107) and 'Trefelydyr' (p. 51). He informs me (8th January, 1940) 
that Tref Elydr (Treleidyr) caught fire 'a fortnight ago and the thatched 
roof was completely burnt out'. 

57 Plas Uchaf, Eglwysegi, Denbighshire 

58 Lymore, near Montgomery : recently demolished 

o9 Penrhos, east Montgomeryshire : demolished 

60 Trewern, near Buttington, Montgomeryshire 



end and the back door at the other. This feature may originally 
have been related to the similar passage-way in the long-houses. 




















On each side is a door leading to the two principal rooms on the 
ground fioor, smaller rooms opening out of the larger ones 
in certain cases. Allen points out that the most remarkable 
feature in the construction of the houses 'is the device adopted 




for increasing the area of the ground floor without the necessity 
for making a roof of unduly wide span. This is done by 
adding what may be termed side aisles. The central part of the 
house is covered by a thatched roof, of from 14 ft. to 15 ft. span 
inside and with the sides sloping perhaps at an angle of 45 
degrees. Along one or both sides of the house are a series 
of recesses 6 ft. square inside, roofed over, pent-house fashion, 

Fig. 42 Llaethdy, St. David's, Pembrokeshire : exterior view 

with large slabs of slate, covered with ordinary roofing slates 
on the outside. The roof of the side aisles or recesses slopes 
at a much less steep angle than that of the main roof of the 
central part of the house' (fig. 38). These recesses are shown 
in fig. 41, where they form (a) a porch at the main entrance, 
(b) the hearth recess and (c) a recess lighted by a window, in 
which a table was placed. Other recesses, states Allen, were 
used for beds and for scullery purposes. In plan therefore the 
houses show a convergence of the tradition of a central passage 
with opposite doors and that of the old Keltic aisled house, 
translated completely into a stone technique. 

In construction, the houses are greatly influenced by the 
castle-building technique as found in Pembrokeshire. The 
thick stone walls with deeply-recessed windows, the arched 



doorways (figs. 39, 50), the stone staircases and benches, 
especially when considered in toto are strongly reminiscent 
of the Norman builders' technique. And this is also trae of 
the massive chimneys (fig. 40). These are from 18 ft. to 20 ft. 
high and are 3 ft. wide at the top. They are built in three 


8 O . 

|Ì TuB ? 

-!*- O - • 

... w . -r- .. . 

NOOK k|| vu < uJ 


. .15-0 

• - - - X 


X - 

iô - o 

Fig. 43 Porth-mawr, St. David's, Pembrokeshire : ground plan 

stages : (a) the top, which is round, (b) the middle stage, with 
a batter to two of the side walls so as to increase the width 
to cover the hearth below, and (c) the bottom, which is rectangu- 
lar. The roofs of the porch and the side-aisle recesses abut on 
each side against the lowest stage of the chimney (fig. 46). 
Romilly Allen lists eight sites. These were visited during 
the course of the present survey. Only four of these now 
remain in a condition approximately similar to that described 
by Allen : one at least has been re-roofed and its exterior 


Llaethdy (figs. 38-42 and plates 51-2) conforms to the 
normal type. It has a passage, 4 ft. 6 in. wide, crossing the 
house transversely, with doors at each end. On one side a door 
leads into the kitchen, from which two other rooms can be 
entered. In Room 1 the hearth and the space on its right 
constitute two recesses. There are two more in Room 2. On 
the other side of the kitchen is another recess together with 
Room 3. On the other side of the passage-way, a door leads to 
Room 4 which has two recesses on the left and Room 5 as a 
recess on the right. The house is therefore completely side- 
aisled throughout. Plate 51 illustrates a corner of the kitchen, 
the principal living-room, with its hearth, hearthside-recess 
with benches, the boiler and stone steps leading to the attic. 
The opposite recess in the kitchen is shown in plate 52. Here 
the various dairy utensils were kept. 

Room 2 had beds in each of its recesses and in the end wall 
'a triple cupboard . . . covered with a single slab of stone'. 
Room 4 was the 'best room' and Room 5, as far as Allen could 
recollect, the dairy. 

Porth-mawr (figs. 43-4) again has a central through passage 
but appears to consist of two blocks joined together by this 
passage. Again the hearth and its accompanying recess are in 
the same relationship, with another recess opposite. The roofs 
of the recesses are slated, but that of the central part thatched. 

Clegyr Foea (fig. 45) is on the usual plan with a central passage. 
Here the roof of the 'nave' is higher than those of the 'aisles', 
providing an upper floor. 

Rhoson Uchaf (figs. 46-7) has remained to the present day 
without any considerable alteration, except that the thatched 
roof has been replaced by slate. Here again there is an upper 
floor, the hearth and the recess nearby together with the porch 
providing the principal 'aisle'. 

Trefeiddan (figs. 48-50) as described by Allen provides a good 
example of the nave-and-aisle character of these houses, the 
central roof again being thatched and the side roofs slated. 

Gwrhyd Bach (plate 50) is described as a rectangle, 44 ft. by 
30 ft., with a central passage with a room on each side of it. 




The room on the left of the passage has four recesses, two on each 
side of the room opposite each other, containing respectively a 
bed, a table, and shelving. The other room has a hearth-recess 
on one side and a dairy recess on the other. In this case all the 
recesses are barrel-vaulted. 

Hendre Einon (fig. 51 and plate 53) conforms in general 
lay-out to the normal plan. In recent years it has been 
considerably altered and the whole of the exterior cemented. 

The last example, Pwllcaerog, is illustrated in fig. 52 and 
conforms to the normal type of these houses. 

One of the features of all these houses is the spacious fireplace 
in the lowest stage of the massive chimney, placed without 
exception at the side of the house adjacent to the entrance, 
the fireplace-recess forming a projection — a part of the 'aisle'. 
As far as I can judge this lay-out is unique in Wales. But the 
chimney has parallels in Somersetshire and Devonshire and — 
in the far north — in the English Lalces district. Olwer 1 writes : 
'Somerset cottages, and many in Devonshire also, originally had 
only one fireplace, with external projection, and that at the side 
of the house often adjacent to the entrance.' The well-known 
cottage at Selworthy, near Minehead, Somersetshire (plate 54) 
illustrates his point. The chimneys in these west-of-England 
examples have much in common with those of Pembrokeshire. 
They are all massive and many are in two stages (e.g. at Aller- 
ford near Porlock, Somersetshire) — a round top stage and a 
rectangular bottom stage with slight intermediate battering. 
But it is only in the chimney and its position that we find a 
parallel. The central 'nave' and side 'aisles' do not appear to 
be a feature of the west-of-England houses. 

Why should these west-of-England chimneys and those of 
Pembrokeshire provide such close parallels ? The problem is 
an interesting one. We know that from prehistoric times 
onwards the cultural connexion between the country south of 
the Bristol Channel and south Wales has been a close one in 
several respects. But if the explanation were to be found in 
this direction we should expect similarities between Somerset 

1 OHver, B. : op. cit., p. 21. 




















and the Vale of Glamorgan, not Pembrokeshire. A clue may 
be obtained in the commerce of the Middle Ages. Lewis 1 points 
out that at the end of the 12th century, Welsh trade seemed to 
be confined to a dependence upon England for many commodi- 
ties. 'The Welsh people themselves paid no attention to 
commerce, shipping or manufacture. The Flemings, settled 

Fig. 46 Rhoson Uchaf, St. David's, Pembrokeshire : exterior view 

by Henry I in Pembrolceshire, were the only commercially- 
minded people in Wales.' The contemporary Pipe Rolls yield 
a few instances of commerce between Pembrokeshire and the 
castles and towns on the south-west coast. 

That commerce continued and George Owen points out 2 how 

1 Lewis, E. A. : 'A contribution to the commercial history of medieval 
Wales', in Y Cymmrodor, XXIV (1913), pp. 88-9. 

2 Ibid., p. 97. 


61 Maes-mawr, m'ar Caersws, Montgomeryshire 


62 Penarth, near Newtown, Montgomeryshire 

63 Talgarth, Trefeglwys, Montgomeryshire 

64 Rhyd-y-carw, Trefeglwys, Montgomeryshire 

65 Cefncloddiau, Llawr-y-glyn — Staylittle district, Montgomeryshire 

fiíì Timbering of a barn in south Yorkshire, showing crucks 

67 Glan-y-wern, Llandyrnog, Denbighshire, showing crncks 

>S>y \.-. 

I . 3..-- ■■■ 


(■>8 Cruclt-constructed building, Yale district, Denbighshire 



at the opening]ofjthe 17th century 'the wools of south Pembroke- 
shire were drafted to Somersetshire and other West of England 
counties'. At the same time, the ports of Glamorgan 'being 
baronial foundations, were denied the prestige of the status of 
staple towns'. 1 Consequently the close relationship of Pem- 
brokeshire, but not Glamorganshire, with the west of England 
at that period is explicable. The Welsh Port Books published 
by Lewis 2 give instances of trade between St. David's and 
Barnstaple and between Tenby and Minehead, Ilfracombe and 

Fig. 47 Rhoson Uchaf, St. David's, Pembrokeshire : front 

Barnstaple. We are justified, I think, in concluding that the 
commercial and cultural contacts between Pembrokeshire and 
the west of England over a long period may provide an adequate 
reason for the existence in those two regions only (in south 
Britain) of the chimney-type under discussion. 

To sum up, it appears probable that in the north Pembroke- 
shire farmhouses we have the convergence of two or more 
traditions. The central passage way and the opposite doors 
which occur regularly are a feature of folk buildings found 

1 Ibid.,p. 100. 

2 Lewis, E. A. : The Welsh Port Books (i 550-1603), No. XII in the 
Cymmrodorion Record Series (1927). 


throughout the whole of north-western Europe as we have seen. 
The nave-and-aisle lay-out of the houses which was 'the most 
remarlcable feature' noted by Romilly Allen is strongly remin- 
iscent of the houses of the Welsh Laws which were codified 
at the neighbouring town of Whitland. The fact that many 
of the recesses are still used for the housing of beds is not 
without interest : it may point to the persistence of a long 
tradition. In which case, the recesses correspond to the immdai 
of the Irish house. Finally, the whole of Pembrokeshire is so 
permeated with the technique of the Norman builder in stone 
that the traditional wooden form has been completely meta- 
morphosed by a stone technique well illustrated in the many 
castles and large houses of the area. Even the bed- and other 
recesses of one house, as we have seen, were barrel-vaulted. 
In the same way, some of the stone fixtures of the farmhouses 
found their way in time into the one-roomed cottage of the 
native tradition where there appears in the croglofft cottage, 
for instance, the mainc near the hearth. When we consider, 
therefore, all the evidence and the probabilities, it is reasonable 
to conclude that the north Pembrokeshire farmhouses are not 
an exotic type but represent the survival and modification of a 
well-established Welsh lay-out adapted to a new stone technique 
introduced by t.he castle-buüders of Norman and English times. 
They have preserved, in a greatly modified form, through the 
durable nature of their stonework, a lay-out, which, because 
its natural medium was wood, would otherwise have disappeared 
completely from Wales. The position and character of the 
massive chimney would appear to be a feature introduced 
with the new constructional technique. 

Against these conclusions, it may be argued that the side- 
aisles of these houses represent merely a solution of the problem 
of increased space, as Allen has suggested, and that such space 
was made possible by the addition of a number of 'outshuts', 
for the aisles on both sides do not run the whole length of the 
'nave' ; furthermore, that one might expect in a stone inter- 
pretation of the technique of the wooden basilical house of early 
Wales the presence of stone pillars where formerly the wooden 
posts were to be found. I am inclined to doubt such an 





argument. The side-aisles appear as integral parts of the 
construction and occur consistently in all the houses. If they 
were built merely 'to increase the area of the ground floor' the 
method seems unduly laborious and unpractical when the 'nave' 
was already roomy enough and extra ground space could be 

Fig. 49 Trefeiddan, St. David's, Pembrokeshire : detail of front 

obtained much more easily by an addition to the length of the 
house which would not involve the roofing problems present in 
the aisled house. But if it is believed that the builders were 
working in a long-established tradition — that of the basilical 
wooden house — then the method adopted in the lay-out of these 
houses is easily understood. Indeed the peculiar roofing 
arrangements and the frequent recesses can be adequately 
explained only if some such tradition is postulated. 



In such a transition from a wood technique to stone, it is 
natural to expect a modification — indeed almost an atrophy — 
of the side-aisles which were only of secondary importance 
compared with the great 'nave' of the wooden house, and 

Fig. 50 Trefeiddan, St. David's, Pembrokeshire : doorway 

whose regularity along the length of the wooden house was an 
integral part of the construction. In a stone technique such 
regularity was unnecessary and the gradual disappearance of 
the side aisles would be normal in the development of the 
traditional house in a new medium. 


Finally, the posts of the wooden house performed a 
fundamental function. They held the complete roof (see p. 183). 
The wattled walls had no constructional significance : they 
merely enclosed the house. But in the new construction 
introduced by the castle-builders, the solid stone walls usurped 
the function of the cruclcs and bore the weight and thrust of 
the roof. Consequently stone pillars were not necessary in 
the new technique which provided recesses walled on three 

The conclusion, therefore, that the builders of the first 
stone houses of this type were worlcing in the well-established 
native tradition of the wooden basilical house is likely although 
it cannot be proved. 

Half-timbered houses or houses with timber framing have 
a wide distribution throughout Europe. 1 If the half-timbering 
technique of the English lowland can be considered one of the 
glories of English building-tradition, as indeed it is, 'it is', as 
Batsford and Fry have emphasized, 2 'but a little insular fìower- 
ing of a plant which has other stems and blossoms. The châlets 
and farm buildings of the Swiss and other Alpine peoples are 
tremendous structures entirely in timber, like that other very 
individual manifestation, the mast churches of Norway. More 
nearly akin to our own buildings are the many-storied half- 
timber houses of western Germany and Alsace — the towering 
structures of Nuremberg, Rothenburg, and their fellows.' The 
houses of the Welsh borderland belong to this larger unity but 
at the same time they show many traces of environmental 
influence and possibly of native tradition. 

1 See for instance the works of J. Strzygowski, e.g. Der Norden in der 
bildenden Kunst Westeuropas (2nd edit., 1928) ; Brunhes, J. : Géographie 
humaine de la France (1920-6) ; Trefois, Cl. V. : 'La Technique de la 
Construction rurale en bois' in Folk, 1937, pp. 55-73. 

a Batsford, H., and Fry, C. : op. cit., p. 40. 

Fig. 51 Hendre Einon 

St. David's, Pembrokeshire : fireplace 




The origin of the half-timbering technique in Britain is a 
problem which has given rise to much conjecture. Associated 
since the late Middle Ages with a pure English building- 
tradition it has been assumed that here we have a non-Welsh 
technique. But we have already seen how the Keltic house in 
Britain and in Ireland from prehistoric times down to the 
9th-10th centuries was of timber with the walls between the 
timbers of woven wattles plastered with lime or clay. 
In the Mirabilis Historia Ecclesiastica, III, xxv of the Venerable 
Bede, the writer speaks of Lindisfarne as 'ecclesiam more Scot- 
torum non de laỳide, sed de robore secto totam composuit' — this in 
the year 582. Streygowsld 1 points out that Bede speaks not 
only of wood-building in general, but also of hewn oak used in 
this kind of wooden architecture. The phrase is 'tabulis 
dedolatis iuxta more Scoticorum gentium'. The mos Scottorum, 
'the Scotic manner', was to build 'from pieces of oak, with 
boards hewn off'. This was in contrast to the mos Romanorum 
which was to build in stone, in particular quarried stone. 
Professor Baldwin Brown 2 concludes that the mos Scottorum was 
a type of wood-building characteristic of Keltic tradition, and 
Strzygowski is dogmatic that the 'Scotic manner' 'must clearly 
have been framework'. 3 

We have to span several centuries to come from the Venerable 
Bede to John Leland who travelled in Wales in the 16th century, 
but in reading his Itinerary we are struck by his insistent descrip- 
tion of the building of the Welsh-border towns as 'after the 
Walche fascion'ý 'Mos Scottorum' , 'Walche fascion' , — we may 
be dealing with the same tradition. Newtown (Montgomery- 
shire) was 'meately welle buildyd after the Walche fascion' ; 

1 Strzygowski, J. : Early Church Art in Northern Europe (1928), p. 87. 

2 Brown, G. Baldwin : The Arts in Early England (1925), II, p. 42. 
a Op. cit., p. 88. 

«Leland, J. : Itinerary in Wales 1536-9 (1906 edit.), pp. 11, 12, 125. 
It will be seen below (p. 178) that even two centuries after Leland's time, 
Newtown for instance had a preponderance of timber-framed houses. 
The same was the case in the other towns mentioned and it is reasonable 
to suppose that this was the feature to which Leland referred when he 
wrote of 'buildinge'. In later times the universal practice of plastering 
and rough-casting these houses concealed their character. 

69 Cruck-constructed cottage, Hawarden, Flintshire 

70 Crucks at Y Gilfach, Llanfihangel-y-Pennant, Merionethshire 

Cruck construction 
Lloran Ganol, Llan 
silin, Montgomery- 

72 Llwyn-rhys, Llan- 
badarn Odwyn,Cardi- 
ganshire : interior 
showing base of 
cruck, 1901 


Rnighton (Radnorshire), 'a praty towne after the Walsche 
buildinge' ; 'Walsch Pole . . . wel buildid after the Walsch 
fascion'. It is well to recall here that several Welsh churches 
are known to have been built of wood, Llanfair Waterdine in 
the Teme Valley, Trelystan (Montgomeryshire) 1 and 'St Asaph 

church was first built of wood'. 2 We know also from old prints 
that half-timbered work was formerly found well inland in 
Wales, e.g. at Conwy — a half-timbered street is illustrated by 
R. Richards (op. cit., p. 204). Early examples still remain 
at Machynlleth (Montgomeryshire) and were known at Llan- 
trisant (Glamorganshire). 

We know therefore that timber framing was a characteristic 
of building in Wales as in other countries. But whether there 
was a native Reltic timber-framing tradition is an open ques- 
tion. One view may be quoted. 'Fortunatus, if we have read 
him aright', writes Strzygowski, 3 'an Italian appointed to a 
Reltic bishopric admired half-timber work on the Moselle and 
Rhine ; that is to say, that it was not usual in Roman and 
Reltic territory for 'houses but was an essential feature of 
Teutonic houses'. Strzygowski is prepared to believe that 
half-timbering 'was already the normal pre-Christian type 
among Teutonic peoples' on the Continent and that in these 
isles the Reltic peoples were forerunners in the same technique. 

Whether the timber-framed houses of the border counties of 
Cheshire, Shropshire and Herefordshire are a development of a 
Teutonic tradition or whether they represent the persistence 
of a 'Walsche fascion' of early times is not a matter which 
can or need be determined by the present writer. It is at 
any rate clear that the timber-framed houses of Wales belong 
in character to the tradition represented in those counties. 
The characteristics of the building-tradition in those three 
counties have been discussed at such length by several 
writers that it is unnecessary here to discuss them in detail. 4 

1 Willans, J. B. : The Byways of Montgomeryshire (1905), plate on p. 89. 

2 Pennant, T. : The Journey to Snowdon (1781), p. 18. 
3 Op. cit., p. 110. 

* See for instance Holme, C. : Old English Country Cottages (1906) ; 
Jones, S. R. : English Village Homes (1936) ; Moss, Fletcher : Pilgrim- 
ages to Old Homes mostly on the Welsh Border (1903) ; 01iver, B. : oỳ. 
cit. ; Parkinson, J., and Ould, E. A. : op. cit. 



Jones 1 has pointed out how in Cheshire great elaboration 
is shown due to the introduction of oblique struts, curved 
braces, pierced quatrefoils and fleurs-de-lys, geometrical 
patternings and gables and dormers oversailing. In Shropshire 
and Herefordshire on the other hand the elaboration is less 
marked. The timbering is simpler and shows less striving 
for effect, depending mostly on vertical and horizontal lines. 
In those two counties 'stout oak sills are laid horizontally 
upon a low wall of stone or brick and into these are tenoned 
upright posts, the larger ones being placed at the external 
angles. Upon these upright posts, horizontal heads are 
placed just below the level of the chamber floor, and the 
intervening spaces formed into panels with thinner pieces, 
the whole being framed and tenoned together and pinned with 
oak pins. The joists of the floor are then laid, resting upon 
the horizontal heads, and frequently being partly supported 
by internal beams, which appear in the ceilings of the house. 
Upon the ends of the joists the sill of the upper storey is laid, 
and the framing is, more or less, a repetition of that below, 
the head forming a support for the spars of the roof, and 
being frequently carried over at the ends as a wall plate to 
carry the overhanging gables.' 2 

It is these styles that we find in eastern Wales, most of the 
houses being in the Shropshire-Herefordshire style although 
the influence of Cheshire is to be seen in the Vale of Clwyd 
and the north-eastern area. Rhydonnen, Gellifor (plate 55) 
and Galch Hill, near Denbigh (plate 56) — the home of Sir 
Richard Myddelton (died 1575-6) — areexamples of the simplest 
form of this technique. Plas Uchaf, Eglwysegl (well illustrated 
by Moss : op. cit., pp. 74-81) is an excellent instance of the 
simple Denbighshire fashion (plate 57). Any traveller in the 
Vale of Clwyd who has time to wander around the town of 
Ruthin will find a large number of such half-timbered houses. 

But the technique in all its glory is to be found in east 
central Wales ; in the whole of the upper Severn valley from 

1 Jones, S. R. : op. cit., p. 112. 

2 Parkinson, J., and Ould, E. A. : op. cit., p. 70. 
















Welshpool to Llanidloes and to Caersws. South of Caersws it 
spreads into the Trefeglwys-Llawr-y-glyn area ; westwards, 
examples are found in the Carno area, and far beyond the 
watershed in the Dyfi Valley. The westernmost example is 
Tyno Hir on the Montgomeryshire-Cardiganshire border over- 
looking the Dyfi estuary and Cardigan Bay. In north-east 
Montgomeryshire, good examples are found in the Llanfyllin 

Llanidloes was described in 1798 1 as a town of 'houses . . . 
built with laths and mud filling up the intermediate spaces 
of a timber frame', 'a mean town, composed chiefly of lath and 
plaster houses'. 2 Newtown too was 'rather mean, from the 
number of lath and plaster buildings with which [it] abounds'. 3 
John Evans 4 writes of Newtown : 'The houses being principally 
half-timbered, i.e. timber frames, with the intermediate spaces 
filledup with whattleanddab.' These descriptions are quoted 
here since they show how universal in these towns was the 
timber-framing technique. The 19th century however saw a 
widespread destruction of a large number of the buildings in 
these towns and in other areas of the timber zone, so that 
the examples left to the student are far less numerous than 
formerly. One such house recently demolished was Lymore 
(plate 58), 'in date probably one of the last half-timber 
houses constructed in the kingdom and in size and interest 
the most important in Montgomeryshire'. 5 Lymore was 
situated in the Montgomery district and was built as late as 
1675 by Edward, third Lord Herbert of Chirbury. Its internal 
arrangements have been fully described. 6 The greater part 
of the house fabric was constructed of timber framing. 

Another house which has now disappeared was Penrhos 
(plate 59) in the Meifod district. It has been well illustrated 

1 Bingley, W. : op. cit., I, p. 484. 

2 Pinnoch's County Histories : North Wales (1822), p. 83. 

3 Ibid.,p. 82. 

* Evans, J. : North Wales, p. 31. 
& Mont. Coll., XVIII, 1885, p. 168. 
*Ibid.,pp. 155-63. 






by Moss 1 and Willans. 2 It was built in the early 17th century 
and was a good example of the 'brick-nogging' method of 
filling the spaces of the timber-framework. Other examples 
(illustrated by Moss) in Montgomeryshire are Llwyn and 
Trederwen. Trewern (plate 60) about a mile from Buttington, 
of early 17th-century date, is a good example of the type in 
which the hall is the dominant feature. 3 The village of 
Berriew has a large number of timber-framed houses. 
Bachelldre (fig. 53) and Lack (fig. 54) in the Churchstoke 
district should also be noted. 

In the district centring upon Caersws there are several 
excellent examples of half-timbered work. At Caersws itself 
is Maes-mawr, 4 a house of interesting plan (plate 61). Here 
the rooms are not grouped around the hall but the hall itself, 
the parlour and the staircases are all grouped around a great 
central chimney. Penarth (plate 62), in the Newtown district 
is on the normal H-shaped hall plan, 5 in plain, heavy timbering. 
Parc-pen-Prys, 6 Llandinam Hall, 7 Pertheirin, 8 Plasau Duon 9 
and Ysgafell — well-known in Welsh Nonconformist history — 
are all in the Newtown-Caersws-Carno district. 

The Trefeglwys area, south of Caersws, has a number of 
fine examples of timber-framed work. Of these Talgarth 10 
— once the seat of the Lords of Arwystli — and Rhyd-y-carw 11 are 
amongst the finest. Talgarth (plate 63) has timber-framed 
walls worked with upright quarterings with heavy sills, angle- 
posts and braces and the gable is enriched by quarterings 
framed diagonally. The house has been considerably mutilated. 
Rhyd-y-carw (plate 64) has undergone less restoration. Its 

I Op. cit., pp. 277-9. 
2 Op. cit., p. 197. 

3 Mont. Coll. XVII, 1884, pp. 157-61 ; Moss, F.: op. cit., pp. 283-6. 

4 Ibid., pp. 152-7 ; Moss, F. : op. cit., pp. 269-71. 
6 Ibid., pp. 359-60 ; Moss, F. : op. cit., pp. 272-3. 
« Ibid.,pp. 361-8 ; Moss, F. : op. cit., pp. 264-8. 

' Ibid., XIX, 1886, pp. 351-4. 

8 Ibid., pp. 125-8. 

9 Ibid., XXXIII, 1904, p. 169. 
™Ibid., XXI, 1887, pp. 303-6. 

II Ibid., pp. 306-10. 


lower storey is framed of uprights on a sill laid on stone founda- 
tions. The upper storey is divided into squares filled with 
diagonal quartering. Each gable-end is of stone with pro- 
jecting chimneys. 

The third area of half-timbered houses is the east-Radnor- 
shire-Brecknockshire district. Here we come to the John 
Abel country and it has aheady been indicated how the technique 
spreads along the valleys of the Usk, Wye and Teme as indeed 
it does along the upper Severn Valley. 

Brecon town today shows little evidence of half-timbered 
work but it is of interest to note that John Abel is said to have 
been the builder of the old town hall there. John Abel's 
dates are generally given as 1577-1674 but Wichham 1 points 
out that the date of his death as recorded on his tombstone at 
Sarnesfield is 1694. If this is correct his birth-year must have 
been later than 1577. It has been stressed 2 that the Hereford- 
shire-Shropshire technique is superior to that of East Anglia, 
due not only to the abundance of timber material but also to 
the influence of Abel himself. He is said to have been a 
native of Hereford and his influence on the building-technique 
of this part of the Welsh border was very considerable. 
According to Theophilus Jones 3 Brecon Town Hall was built 
by Abel in 1624 and the façade is illustrated in his plate V. 

This southernmost area of the timber-framing technique 
extends throughout east Radnorshire and east Brecknockshire 
— indeed from Tretower on the Monmouthshire border north- 
wards — while isolated instances have been known as far south as 
the edges of the Vale of Glamorgan, e.g. at Llantrisant. The 
towns of Presteigne and Rnighton present excellent examples of 
the technique. Most students of Welsh architecture know of the 
wealth of timber work of a fine quality in the churches (e.g. 
Partrishow and Llananno) of this area. A detailed survey 
parish by parish is necessary to discover the present distribu- 
tion of such houses and it is to be regretted that in the past 

1 Wickham, A. K. : The Villages of England (1932), p. 44. 
* Parkinson, J., and Ould, E. A. : op. cit., p. 75. 

3 Jones, Theophilus : A History of the County of Brecknock (1809) 
II, p. 109. 


the Royal Commission on Ancient Monuments in Wales 
neglected this aspect of their work. The Inventories relating 
to Denbighshire, Montgomeryshire and Radnorshire do not 
illustrate any such houses. Finally it should be stated that 
while most of the examples referred to are small mansions, the 
same technique is found throughout the area in the construc- 
tion of cottages. There is the same low wall and the same 
timber framing. 

In those districts where the timber-framing zone merges 
into the moorland, the timber-growth is smaller in quality 
and quantity and here a modification in type is noticeable. 
Many of the houses have their exteriors boarded horizontally 
and the characteristic black-and-white pattern is less in 
evidence. This is well illustrated in the Trefeglwys-Llawr-y- 
glyn district. The valley floor here as we have seen has 
magnificent examples of timber-framing at its best, as at 
Talgarth and Rhyd-y-carw but in the moorland between 
Llawr-y-glyn and Staylittle the boarded type is evident. 
A small farmhouse from this district is illustrated (plate 65). 
Such boarding is frequently to be met with throughout eastern 
Montgomeryshire. This is also true of the other districts, e.g. 
Radnorshire. 1 At the same time, simple timber-framing of an 
unpretentious character also occurs on the moorland, as may 
be seen at Abernodwydd, Llangadfan (plate 9), and in several 
other instances. 

1 See for example, Llanbedr Hall in the parish of Llanbedr Painscastle, 
figured in the Inventory of Ancient Monuments in Radnorshire, fig. 33. 


Building Construction 

The many details of the construction of Welsh houses deserve 
the close attention of the serious student of folk culture and 
in particular of Welsh architecture. It is impossible in a volume 
of this nature to do more than draw the reader's attention to 
general considerations and to some outstanding features. For 
information of a technical character, a comprehensive series of 
scale drawings of the various constructional details is required, 
and it is to be hoped that much material of this character will be 
prepared for the remaining volumes of the Inventories of the 
Royal Commission on Ancient Monuments in Wales and 
Monmouthshire. The interested reader should also consult 
the various volumes of Archaeologia Cambrensis, in particular 
some of the papers of the late H. Harold Hughes. 

Cruck Construction 

We have already referred in more than one chapter to houses 
of cruck-construction and this method must now be considered 
in greater detail. The only extensive study of the method in 
England is to be found in Innocent's boofc 1 but the information 
there given concerning cruck-buildings in Wales is both 
inadequate and at times incorrect. His frequent uncorrobora- 
ted references to 'the Welsh tradition', in particular, 2 may well 
lead the unwary astray. 

Cruck-constructed buildings consist of pairs of curved 
timbers set up in ùwerted V form, the timbers crossing at the 
apex of the triangle thus formed, so forming a fork in which 
the ridge-piece is fitted (figs. 55-6 and plates 67-8). The 
rafters and purlins are placed on the crucks which therefore 
bear the whole weight of the roof. The walls of such buildings 

1 Innocent, C. F. : op. cit., pp. 23-72. 

2 Ibid., e.g. pp. 28-9. 



were therefore of secondary importance and served principally 
to enclose them : they bore no constructional relationship to 
the roof. 

The fact is often overlooked that in past ages Britain was 
extensively covered with forests. Oak trees were easily 
found of such a variety of growth that building timbers of 
every kind were obtainable from them. And so, as Innocent 
points out, 1 'it was possible to find an oak-tree naturally bent 
in such a form that, when set up in the building, part would be 
upright and parallel to the wall and part sloping in line with the 
roof, or to find one with a great branch bent at such an angle 
to the bole that when the tree was set up in the building the 
branch would be in line with the roof. If such a tree were split 
and the halves placed opposite to each other, with the ends 
of the bent trunk or branch crossing at their summits, they 
would form a fork in which the ridge-tree would securely rest.' 

Evidence from Wales shows that this method of construction 
was at one time widespread through the country. Here again 
it must be stressed that only a parish-by-parish survey can 
determine accurately the former distribution of the technique 
in Wales and unfortunately many of these buildings have been 
destroyed. It is of interest however to note the extent of the 
technique in Wales as far as our present information reveals it. 
Hughes and North 2 have described a large number of houses 
so constructed in Caernarvonshire and several are ülustrated 
by them. The technique occurs in Denbighshire (plates 67, 68) ; 
in Flintshire (plate 69) ; Merionethshire (plate 70 and fig. 55) ; 
Montgomeryshire (e.g. Bryn-mawr, Llanerfyl, plate 48 and 
Llansilin, fig. 56 and plate 71) ; Radnorshire (Ciloerwynt and 
Llannerch-y-cawr, figs. 19, 20 and plates 31, 34 were so built) ; 
Cardiganshire (plate 72. I found that several buildings 
recently destroyed in the county were of cruck-construction, 
e.g. one at Blaenpennal) ; Carmarthenshire (there were formerly 
good examples at Cwm Crymlyn, Llandeilo and Pant-mawr, 
New Inn). 

1 Ibid., p. 27. 

2 Op. cit. 



Many examples have been recorded from Caernarvonshire. 
William Williams 1 writes of Ty'n-y-weirglodd, Llanberis : 
' . . . yr hen gwpwl coed sydd â'i ddeupen yn y ddaear. Chwilid 
am goeden yn meddu cangen yn taflu allan ar ongl osgoawl 
tebyg i gwpl tŷ : wedi ei chael torid y goeden yn y bôn, yna 
plenid hi ar ei phen yn y lle y bwriedid i'r tŷ fod, a'r gangen 

Fig. 55 Cruck at Haíod Ysbyty, Merionethshire. 

gam yn taflu i fyny at le y grib fel cwpl. Wedi cael digon o'r 
cyfryw goed, plenid hwy yn gyfochrog ac adeiladid mur cerrig 
amdanynt.' [the old timber couple with two ends in the earth. 
A tree was searched for having a branch thrown out at an 
oblique angle like a house-couple ; when it was found, the tree 
was cut at its base and then set up where the house was to be, 
the branch throwing itself up to the ridge like a couple (i.e. a 
normal rafter). After securing a number of such trees, they 
were planted in parallel rows and a stone wall built around 
them]. It will be seen that this description tallies in detail 

1 Williams, W. : Hynafiaethau . . . Plwyf Llanberis, p. 66. 


with Innocent's statement. Hughes and North, in their study 
of a number of houses so built, several of which they illustrate, 
ascribe them to the 14th-15th centuries. The characteristic 
of these cottages, they write, 1 seems to have been that the roof 
principals were composed each of two great curved pieces of 
oak, starting from the floor, against the side walls and meeting 
at the ridge.' They illustrate and describe examples where the 
main timbering consists only of one pair of such crucks, set 
near the centre of the building, and a ridge-piece whose centre 
rests in the cruck-fork and its ends on the stone gables. These, 
in fact, seem to be the three free timbers of the Welsh Laws 
(see p. 132) and as Campbell has pointed out 2 'these houses 
consist[ing] of a pair of crucks and a ridge-tree . . . can be shown 
to be of great antiquity. . . . This form . . . can be studied 
over a large area' and can well be pre-Christian in type. Other 
examples, consisting of these three timbers were examined 
during the present survey in at least three other counties. 

Hughes and North stress the important point that this type 
of construction 'was doubtless a survival of wattle or wood- 
building where it was obviously necessary for the principals to 
carry the thrust to the ground'. They add that 'the nave of old 
Llanfair Fechan church was roofed in this manner and there is 
good ground for thinking that the oldjchurches were roofed in 
this way previous to the introduction of the close-couple roofs 
by the Latin monks'. These authors' argument therefore is 
that the cruck method of construction was that of the native 
Welsh tradition, a view supported — as we have seen — by the 
evidence adduced in Chapter VI. Innocent, following the 
widespread English view that little or nothing in architectural 
tradition in Wales could have been pre-English, doubts the 
conclusions of Hughes and North in this instance and maintains 
that what probably occurred was 'an English superiority in 
building, which was followed by the Welsh'. This conclusion 
he bases on a 'tradition' which he discovered 'by personal 
enquiries among old men in North Wales' that cruck buildings 

1 Op. cit., pp. 15-16. 

2 Folkliv. 1937, p. 213. 


'were forced upon the Welsh by their English conquerors' ! 
Later he asserts dogmatically that 'Welsh tradition tells that the 
bent-tree principals were introduced by the English'. 1 

A tradition of a somewhat different nature is referred to by a 
Welsh writer in 1901. Describing Cwm Berwyn, a farmhouse in 
the uplands above Tregaron (Cardiganshire) he writes : 2 Tŷ hir 
cadarn gyda'i furiau yn agos ddwy lath o drwch a'i ffenestri 
uchaf yn onglog, ac yn myned trwy y to, a grisiau cerrig llydain 
yn arwain i'r llofft, gyda holl goed ei do o ruddin derw, a'i gyplau 
yn cyrraedd i'r ddaear, fel yr oedd cyplau holl hen dai Cymru 
hyd tua'r 16eg ganrif. ... Yn agos i gychwyniad y gormes 
Normanaidd gwnaed deddf na châi Cymro adeiladu tŷ yn uwch 
nag uchder y cyplau. ... Er mwyn osgoi cael eu pennau 
beunydd yn y to darfu iddynt osod traed i'r cyplau. Yr oedd 
y traed yn rhan o'r cyplau, ac yn cyrraedd i'r ddaear ac yn y 
modd hwnnw yr oeddynt yn llwyddo i gadw llythyren y gyfraith 
a chael yn fynych ddau lawr i'r tŷ. Byddid yn adeiladu muriau 
o dan y to uchder traed y cyplau ond ni fyddai y cyplau'n pwyso 
ar y muriau. Dyfais ychwanegol oedd adeiladu gwadn llydan 
gryn lawer yn lletach na'r muriau llydain uchder llawr isaf y 
tŷ ac ar hwnnw gosodid sail y muriau a byddai traed y cyplau'n 
gorffwys arno. Yr oedd y ddwy ddyfais hon i'w gweld yn 
Cwm Berwyn.' [A long solid house with its walls nearly two 
yards thick and its top windows angular and going through the 
roof (i.e. dormer windows), wide stone steps leading to the upper 
floor ; all the roof timbers of heart-of-oak, the couples reaching 
to the earth, as did the couples of all old Welsh houses until 
about the iôth century. . . . About the beginning of the 
Norman conquest, a law was passed that no Welshman was to 
build a house higher than the height of the couples. ... To 
prevent their heads from continually striking against the roof, 
they gave the couples feet. These were part of the couples and 
reached to the floor and in this way they managed to succeed to 
keep the letter of the law and have also two floors in the house. 
They built walls under the roof the height of the lower stage of 

1 Innocent, C. F. : op. cit., pp. 28-9. 

2 Parry, W. T., in Cymru, 1901, II, pp. 282-3. 


the couples but the couples did not rest on the walls. An 
additional device was to build a broad base much wider than the 
thick walls to the height of the ground floor of the house : on 
this was placed the foundation of the walls and the feet of the 
couples. Both devices were to be seen at Cwm Berwyn.] 

While this passage describes the cruck method in detail and 
shows that it was a normal technique in Wales, its attempt at 
explaining the reason for the adoption of crucks is unfounded. 
No law of the kind referred to is known and I am grateful to 
Sir John Edward Lloyd, F.B.A., for confirming this. 1 The 
statement is obviously a popular attempt, probably originating 
in the 19th century, at explaining the 'strange' cruck construc- 
tion and has no foundation in fact. But it should be noted 
that Parry does not maintain that 'bent-tree principals were 
introduced by the English' as Innocent's 'tradition' asserts. 

Many of the examples of crucks in north Wales have 
angularly-bent timbers (see for instance plate 68) and Innocent 
believes these to be 'apparently older than the forms in which 
the timber is bowed or irregularly curved. This is to be 
inferred from their rare occurrence in England and their 
prevalence in Wales, and the difficulty which there must have 
been in obtaining timber of the required shape.' 2 It is difficult 
however to know whether such chronology is possible and 
whether the shape of the crucks did not depend at all times 
on the local material available. 

Crucks in Denbighshire are here illustrated by an example 
from the Yale district (plate 68) and another from Llandyrnog 
(plate 67). On the Montgomeryshire-Denbighshire border at 
Llansilin, Monroe 3 has described and illustrated (fig. 56 and 
plate 71) a magnificent example which he believes to be late 

1 In a letter dated 23rd July, 1939. Sir John adds that 4 Hen. IV, 
cap. 31 (that no Welshman was to keep 'castle, fortress nor house defen- 
sive' other than was permitted in Edward I's time) may have been the 
basis of the 'tradition'. 

2 Innocent, C. F. : op. cit., p. 33. 

3 Monroe, L. : 'A Crutch Roof truss at Lloran Ganol, Montgomery- 
shire', in Arch. Camb., 1933, pp. 122-5. 



Fig. 56 Cmck at Lloran 

Ganol, Llansilin, Denbighshire 



^o/o/r 7,10 ^ ŵou^R PASSAGE sRo^ 


Fig. 57 Truss at Plas Ucha, Llangar, Merionethshire 


16th or early 17th century in date. Fig. 55 illustrates an 
interesting cruck at Hafod Ysbyty in the parish of Ffestiniog. 1 
Several examples of crucks were noted in Cardiganshire. 
Llwyn-rhys (above p. 78) — like Cwm Berwyn- — was built in this 
way, with large curved pieces of oak resting on stones at the 
fioor level. It is fortunate that these were photographed in 
1901 2 (plate 72). Such stone-rests were a normal feature of 
many cruck-buildings. 

The later development of cruck construction is fully discussed 
by Hughes and North. They show how in a house near Conway 
the side posts and rafters are separate and are connected by 
a triangular piece which strengthens the joint. In this case, 
the wall-piece or side-posts do not extend down to the floor 
but are carried half-way only down the wall. Innocent draws 
attention to an example (plate 73) at Cae Crwn, Glanmorfa, 
Portmadoc, where the curve of the crucks is reduced to a bend 
at the foot of the principal rafter and the crucks here 'approxi- 
mate in arrangement to a collar beam-truss'.' 5 These examples 
are obviously experiments in new manners. How the new 
methods developed in Wales is a long and complex story with 
which we are not concerned but one aspect of it may be 
illustrated. Monroe has described 4 the elaborate timbering 
(fig. 57) of Plas Ucha, Llangar, Merionethshire, where there is 
found 'so far west as this part of Merionethshire an example of 
a type of roof described . . . as being typical of the west of 

What is the history of the cruck method of construction ? 
'The cruck buildings' writes Innocent, 'seem to be as 
peculiarly British as the bull-dog or the red grouse.' Is this 
view justified ? We have already seen that the method seems 
to have been a feature of early Reltic building in these isles. 
But it would be wrong to allow the reader to suppose that the 
matter can be left there. The stritsular of the Jutland peasant 

1 Williams, G. J. : Hanes Plwyf Ffestiniog (1882), p. 56. 

2 See also Cymru, 1901, II, p. 271. 

3 Innocent, C. F. : op. cit., p. 64. 

4 Monroe, L. : 'Plas Ucha, Llangar, Merioneth', in Arch. Camb 1933 
pp. 80-7. 


buildings of Denmark should be regarded — though not identical 
— as parallel examples of this construction 1 but as Erixon 
has pointed out 2 they 'do not show the arch form'. Erixon 
makes a tentative statement that while evidence is wanting 
outside the British Isles of supports of exact cruck form, 
'certain indications are to be found that it had at one time a 
considerable distribution in West Europe. Thus in Northern 
Spain ... I have met with arched sloping struts to vertical roof 
supports and in France as in Belgium, Holland and north-west 
Germany are to be found half-timbered gable-ends with 
inclined, often arched struts and inclined supports which should 
be relics of cruck-like roof supports occurring there at one time 
in the far past.' 3 Similar evidence is forthcoming from pre- 
historic times in Denmark and Gotland and even from the 
Stone Age in Sweden and west Germany, according to Erixon, 
who concludes that cruck-construction 'in its wider, more 
primary significance' should be regarded as a local west 
European-Scandinavian form. That the method was normal 
in the highland zone of Britain is to be seen from the fact that 
it occurs throughout Wales and also in the Scottish Isles. 4 
In the same way Vreim 5 has shown that the bael 'lje construction 
of the Lapps is the equivalent of the cruck method and holds 
that the stave-buildings of north and west Norway have also 
passed through the cruck stage. We are therefore justified in 
concluding that the cruck technique, in variations probably 
affected environmentally, (a) is a feature of building-con- 
struction throughout north-western Europe ; (b) was well- 
established throughout the greater part of Wales. 

It is axiomatic that there are few areas where the use of 
stone as the principal building material for the walls of folk 
buildings of modern type is of any great antiquity. Con- 

1 Zangenberg, H. : op. cit., p. 82. 

2 Erixon, S., in Folkliv, 1937, p. 141. 
*Ibid., pp. 141-2. 

4 Roussell, A. : op. cit., p. 46. 

6 Vreim, Halvor : 'The Ancient Settlements in Finnmark', in Folkliv, 
1937, pp. 198-202. 

73 Cae-crwn, Glanmorfa, Portmadoc, Caer- 
narvonshire : the crucks are curved only 
at their feet 

74 Llainfadyn, Rhos-isaf, Caernarvonshire : note the use of 
large boulders projecting at floor level 

75 Porch in dry walling of a cottage at the foot 

L aernarvi «ii 


7(S Painted mural decoration, of carly 17th-century type, at 
Brogynin, Penrhyn-coch, Cardiganshire : now in the 
National Museum of Wales 


sequently it is logical to consider first the various methods 
adopted to build walls in materials other than stone. The 
Laws, as we have seen, refer to wattled walls, i.e. walls of 
timber hurdles with twigs or wattles interwoven between the 
posts. The Black Book of St. David's speafcs 1 of 'rods for 
making and covering houses', 'all the materials and rods for 
the mill and build and wattle at their own cost', and 'they 
should wattle all houses requiring it'. This wattling is the 
bangor of the Welsh Laws and its use reaches back to pre- 
historic times : there are examples of wattling from the 
Glastonbury Lake Village, and from Romano-British sites. 
The Romans used wattling for various purposes, such as at 
Caersws, Montgomeryshire, for the lining of wells. We have 
seen (p. 45) Giraldus's reference to its use in Wales in his 

A natural development was the application of daub to the 
wattle : this might be clay or lime plaster, strengthened with 
straw or cowhair and cow-dung, the finished walling being 
known as wattle-and-daub. The foundation for the daub 
varied. I have noted in addition to the use of interwoven 
twigs or wattles the use of reeds (as at Rumney, Monmouth- 
shire), brambles in Merionethshire (Innocent too quotes its use 
at St. Florence, Pembrokeshire 2 ), straw at Tal-y-llyn (Merioneth) 
— see p. 104 — and Llŷn (Caernarvonshire) and riven oak laths 
at Welshpool (Montgomeryshire). Innocent has shown how 
the natural round rods of the wattle gave way to squared 
timbers 3 as at St. Issell's (Pembrokeshire), and Conway (Caer- 
narvonshire) while at a cottage near Marros (Carmarthenshire) 
the square uprights were fixed horizontally in imitation of 
contemporary plaster on laths. A late 19th-century observer 4 
describing the construction of cottages in west Montgomeryshire, 
writes : 'Gwnelid y bythynod . . . ar gyn lleied o draul ac a ellid. 
Gwnelid y talcen lle y byddai'r tân ac weithiau'r ddau o gerrig 
wedi'u gosod mewn cymrwd clai, ac yn wir ar adegau gwneid 

1 Op. cit., pp. 81, 113, 317. 

2 Innocent, C. F. : op. cit., p. 130. 

3 Ibid. 

4 Peate, D. : op. cit. 



muriau da yn y dull hwn. Yn yr wyneb a'r cefn gwnaethid 
ffrâm o goed a rhwng y coed hynny drachefn plethid gwiail ac 
yna byddid yn plastro y gwiail â chymrwd clai eto.' [The 
cottages . . . were made at as little expense as possible. The 
gable end where the fire was placed and sometimes both ends 
were made of stone fixed with clay-mortar, and indeed at times 
good walls were made in this way. In the front and back, a 
wooden frame was made and between the timbers rods were 
woven : these rods were then plastered with clay-mortar.] 
The demolition of several cottages in the area recently — all of 
them of 19th-century date — has revealed a widespread use of 
wattle-and-daub, particularly in interior partition walls. The 
use of wattle-and-daub in half-timbered Work is too well-known 
to need discussion here. 

Innocent has described a form of wattle-and-daub wall in 
which the wattle is of two thicknesses, with the daub and mud 
packed between them. W. K. Sullivan x has shown that some 
of the round houses of Ireland 'were made by making two 
basket-like cylinders, one within the other and separated by an 
annular space of about a foot, by inserting upright posts in the 
ground and weaving hazel wattles between, the annular space 
being filled with clay'. Innocent has seen 2 in some remains in 
Caernarvonshire 'round banks of earth which indicate former 
round houses' constructed in this way. 

It is probable that this double-wattling method gave rise 
to the mud wall in its many forms. The inevitable decay of 
the wattlework would show the builders that the clay or mud 
filling itself provided a good durable wall. Reference has 
already been made (Chapter II) to the distribution of houses 
with mud walls, but certain types deserve notice here. J. Evans 
refers to the cottages of Caernarvonshire as of 'turf or clay with 
chopped rushes'; 3 he refers in particular to cottages in Llŷn as 
having 'walls built of what in Devonshire is termed cobb ; that 
is an argillaceous earth having straw or rushes mixed with it 
while in a state of paste, and then laid layer upon layer, between 

1 Quoted by Innocent, op. cit., pp. 133-4. 

*Op. cit., p. 134. 

3 Evans, J. : Letters . . . North Wales in the year 1798, p. 160. 


boards'. 1 Culley in 1867 describes the cottages of south-west 
Wales as 'of mud (clay and straw mixed)'. 2 Many of the 
cottages of Dyffryn Aeron and mid-Cardiganshire are described 
by a contemporary observer as having 'welydd pridd a gwellt, 
weithiau'n 4 troedfedd o drwch. Ceid rhes ohonynt ar eu traed 
felly tua 1913 yn ardal Llwyncelyn' 3 [walls of mud and straw, 
sometimes 4 feet thick. A row of such houses remained about 
1913 at Llwyncelyn]. This writer adds : 'Nid oes dim arbennig 
yng ngwaith coed yr hen fythynnod rhagor na mai derw wedi'i 
naddu â bwyell ydoedd. Ni cheid hoelion ond ỳinolion pren 
i'w cadw yn eu Ue.' [There is nothing to note specially in the 
woodwork of the old cottages except that it was adzed oak. 
Wooden pins, not nails, were used for securing the woodwork.] 
Hughes and North 4 refer to a cottage near Llanbedr-y-cennin, 
of 14th-century date, whose walls averaged S\ ft. ^These were 
built of mud on inside and outside but the core was fìlled with 
bran, 'doubtless with the idea of keeping damp from the 
house'. Finally we have seen that clod houses were known in 
Radnorshire and in north Wales. 

It may be concluded therefore that turf or clods on the one 
hand and mud, prepared in various ways, were the normal 
materials used in many parts of Wales until recent times and in 
houses constructed of these materials, the older technique of 
wattle-and-daub persisted in the interior partitioning. Evans in 
the quotation above referred to 'cob' walls ; the term 'clom' is also 
known in Pembrokeshire. 'Clom' is possibly related to Welsh 
clwm, clymu, 'to tie up, to bind'. The term 'cob' is well known 
in Devonshire. The practice was to lay a stone foundation 
and subsequently to build the clom (when wet and soft as 
mortar) in layers, periods of a week or more being given each 
layer to dry and harden before the next was put on. 

When stone walls superseded wattle in north Wales, the 
stones were at fìrst daubed like the wattle with a mixture of 

1 Evans, J. : The Beauties of England and Wales, XVII (1812), p. 322. 

2 Third Report ofthe Commission on the Employment ofChildren, Young 
Persons and Women in Agriculture (1867), p. 48. 

3 Mr. W. Beynon Davies, M.A., in a written communication, August, 

*Op. cit., pp. 12-13. 


clay and cow-dung, 1 a practice also found in England. In 
most of the stone cottages of Caernarvonshire, boulders of 
enormous size have been used for the foundations (plate 74) 
extending up to the ground floor level, the walling above 
being of smaller stones. One reason for this was that the 
large stones could be more easily handled at the base of the 
wall but such a use, it has been pointed out, 2 is a survival 
from the times when the walls were built of wood and wattling. 
The earliest use of stone in folk building appears to have been 
to form a foundation on which rested the sill of the wooden 
f ramework of the wall and such stones were used without having 
been dressed — and were of ten river stones or stones f rom boulder- 
clay. They often formed a projecting plinth rising to the floor 
level. Hughes and North have shown how in the early 19th- 
century when the walling stones of houses in Caernarvonshire 
were trimmed with hammers, the chippings from them were 
used for pegging the work, with the result that because of the 
neatness of the pegging, whitewash was abandoned. 3 Pegging 
of a similar character with small stones, the wall being then 
whitewashed, was a pre-19th century feature. 

Most of the slate buildings of north Wales show a similar 
gradation of stones, large at the base of the walls and becoming 
smaller as the walls rise. The feature adds to the attractiveness 
of the building. 

Dry walling is met with throughout Wales in old buildings. 
Plate 75 shows the dry-walled porch of a cottage at the foot 
of Snowdon. Wigstead (1797) described the houses of Dolgelley 
as 'composed for the most part of stones piled up with neither 
mortar or cement of any sort'. 4 Evans (1798) writes of the 
cottages of the Mawddwy district (Merionethshire) as 'built 
of fragments of quartz and limestone, piled one upon another 
in an irregular manner, with the interstices fìlled up with 
lumps of turf or peat'. 5 Aikin gives a similar description of 

i North, H. L. : Old Churches of Arllechwedd (1906), p. 78. 

2 Innocent, C. F. : op. cit., p. 118. 

3 Op. cit., p. 32. 

*Op. cit., p. 44. 

* Evans, J. : Letters . . . North Wales in the year 1798, p. 66. 


the houses of Cwm Cynllwyd in the same neighbourhood. 1 
The Education Commissioners (1847) describe the houses of 
the Tal-y-llyn district in the same county as 'formed of a few 
loose fragments of rock and shale piled together without 
mortar or whitewash'. 2 

In Caernarvonshire, J. Evans writes (1812) 3 'in situations 
exposed to westerly winds the walls of dwelling houses are 
not unusually guarded with slates. These are applied to the 
walls squameously or clinker fashion, that is, each succeeding 
row upwards partially overlaying the one below . . . put on 
neatly with black or dark grey mortar (of quick or boiling 
lime and sharp sand, intermixed with coal ashes or forge 
cinders)'. The same feature is found in parts of Pembrokeshire 
(see p. 23) and latterly in some other districts. 

Walls were sometimes colour-washed inside, the application 

of coat after coat of colouring giving the wall after many 

years a plastered appearance. Or they were lime-plastered. 

In a cottage at Brogynin, Penrhyn-coch, north Cardiganshire, 

which had dry-stone walling, such a plaster was discovered 

painted with a pleasing fìoral pattern and dado line in orange 

and dark red (plate 76) of early 17th-century type. A coin 

of Queen Elizabeth's period is reputed to have been found in 

the plaster. The site is of considerable Welsh interest since 

it is believed to have been the birthplace of Dafydd ap Gwilym, 

the famous 14th-century poet. The building concerned is, of 

course, of much later date, but Dafydd's own reference to the 

painted decoration of walls is pertinent : 

Ai gwaeth bod y mur gwyn 

Dan y calch, doniog cylchyn, 

No phe rhoddid, geubrid gŵr, 

Punt er dyfod o'r paentiwr 

I baentio'n hardd bwyntiau'n hoyw, 

Lle arloes â Uiw eurloyw, 

A lliwiau glân ychwaneg, 

A lluniau tariannau teg ?* 

1 Aikin, A. : Journal of a Tour through North Wales (1797), pp. 32-3. 

2 Report, p. 63. 

3 Evans, J. : Beauties of England and Wales (1812), XVII, pp. 322-3. 

4 Williams, Ifor and Roberts, Thomas : Dafydd ap Gwilym a'i Gyf- 
oeswyr (1935), p. 25. 


[Is it worse that the white wall, (the room's) uneven surround, 
is under the lime than if a pound were given to the painter, 
artificial (work)man, to come and paint fair spots and (to paint) 
an empty space with golden colour and other beautiful colours 
and (to paint) the shape of fair shields ?J 

We have seen how in dry walling, the spaces between the 
stones were plugged with turf. Very often as in some of the 
circular 'pigsties', an outer covering of turf was found effective 
with such walls and when a mortar was used, it was generally 
clay — the cymrwd clai referred to by Peate above. This clay 
mortar was used in the Roman station at Caersws (Mont- 
gomeryshire) and continued in use for folk-building into the 
19th century. A combination of stone and mud for walling 
was also met with : we have already referred (p. 32) to an 
example of this construction at Llandybie (Carmarthenshire) 
where the walls were made of river pebbles (popyls) and mud. 
In houses in this district too are found walls built of large 
stones on the inside and outside, with small pebbles in the 
core, all fixed with a lime and clay mortar. The Rev. Gomer 
M. Roberts informs me that though Llandybîe produces a good 
supply of lime, Aberthaw (Glamorganshire) lime was considered 
best for making this mortar and it was imported into the district 
from an early date. 


'Native earth' was more commonly used throughout Wales 
for floors than it was even for walls. 'The floor', writes J. 
Evans in 1798 of a cottage near Barmouth (Merionethshire) 
'was the native soil, rendered very hard and uneven from long 
and unequal pressure'. 1 Culley's description (supra) in 1867 
of the 'ordinary form of cottage in south Wales' proceeds : 
'The floor is usually of mud or puddled clay.' The present 
writer's own home had such a floor in its kitchen at the end of 
the 19th century and, describing the cottages of west Mont- 
gomeryshire in the 19th century, David Peate observes : 
'Llawr daear a fyddai iddynt braidd yn ddieithriad, gosodid 

1 Evans, J. : Letters . . . North Wales in 1798, p. 115. 


ychydig gerrig geirwon ar yr aelwyd. 1 [Almost without excep- 
tion, theyhadearthenfloors,a few rough stones being placed on 
the hearth.] Mr. Sam Ellis describes certain farmhouses in the 
Garthbeibio district of Montgomeryshire in the late 19th 
century : 'Llawr pridd oedd yn Tynsietin gyda cherrig trwchus 
ar yr aelwyd. Ymddengys i mi fod cerddediad cenedlaethau 
ac ysgubell gwraig y tŷ wedi treulio llawr y gegin nes bod yr 
aelwyd ar dir ychydig yn uwch. Cofiaf fynd yno un noson 
pan yn hogyn ac eisteddwn ar stôl drithroed. Fe drodd y stôl 
oddi tanaf ac fe syrthiais wysg fy nghefn.' 2 [Tynsietin had an 
earthen floor with thick stones on the hearth. It seems to me 
that the feet of generations and the broom of the housewife had 
worn the kitchen-floor until the hearth was on a somewhat 
higher level. I remember going there as a boy one night and 
sitting on a three-legged stool. The stool turned over and I 
fell backwards.] 

Of Llechog, in the same district, he writes : 'Cegin fawr, 
rhan ohoni'n llawr pridd. Parthed llawr y gegin, ni fedraf 
gofio'n iawn faint o honno a orchuddid gan gerrig. Cofiaf yn 
dda am Gatrin Morus yn porthi'r cẃn mewn twll yn y llawr.' 
[A large kitchen, part of the floor of earth. Concerning the 
kitchen floor, I cannot remember exactly how much of it was 
covered with stone. I well remember Catrin Morus feeding the 
dogs in a hole in the floor.] The reader may be reminded here 
of Heilyn Goch's 'hall' in Breuddwyd Rhonabwy ! 

In parts of Caernarvonshire, the hard earthen floors were 
washed with water containing soot, which in time gave them a 
smooth shiny surface. 3 On the hearth, white stones were used 
or decorations made with clay formed into small balls. This 
clay was dug in the Holyhead district and in Llŷn and sold in 
Caernarvonshire. These clay balls (or often dock leaves) were 
used for marking patterns, and such patterns were always to be 
found around the dresser and the long-case clock — on the tyle 
referred to above (p. 94) — in districts such as Bethel, Caernarvon- 
shire. This custom of decorating floors of all kinds with geo- 

1 Op. cit. 

2 In a letter dated 19th February, 1938. 

3 Information from Mr. Evan Rowlands, Llanllyfni. 


metrical patterns was found throughout Wales : the patterns 
were applied generally by the use of 'hearthstone' — a kind of 
whiting — and were renewed daily or at each washing of the floor. 
Examples noted at Solva, Pembrokeshire, in 1908 are illustrated 
(fig. 58). Another type of flooring met with in south-west 
Wales was a mixture of earth and lime, which properly mixed 
formed a good floor, with a smooth glazed surface. 

Giraldus Cambrensis has described 1 how the floors of the 
medieval houses were covered with rushes and green grass on 
which meals were partaken. This practice continued in at 
least one district of Caernarvonshire to within living memory. 
I am informed : 2 'Mewn hen dai sydd yn adfeilion ar lechwedd 
y Bwlch Mawr, fe fyddai taenu brwyn a rhedyn ar y llawr a rhoi 
platiau pren ar y rhedyn sych ac yna gwledda ar y caws, y potas 
a'r cig a'r llaeth.' [In old houses now in ruins on the slopes of 
the Bwlch Mawr, rushes and fern would be strewn on the floor 
and on the dry fern were placed wooden platters, and then, 
feasting on the cheese, the broth and the meat and milk.] 
Mr. Ffransis Payne informs me that brick and stone floors were 
so strewn in parts of Radnorshire during his boyhood as tavern 
floors are still strewn with sawdust. The practice of using 
rushes also continued in the churches of Wales until a compara- 
tively late date. John Evans (1798) describing the church at 
Mallwyd (Merionethshire) writes that 'the floor [was] covered 
with rushes, a practice almost universal through Wales'. 3 
Cradock found that in 1776 the floor of Dolgelley (Merioneth- 
shire) church 'is only clay covered deep with rushes'. 4 

Mr. Evan Rowlands of Llanllyfni, Caernarvonshire, informs 
me that in his district he remembers — sixty years ago — the 
earthen floors being sanded, and that this was known to him in 
the Rhondda Valley (Glamorganshire) as recently as twenty 
years ago. The practice was indeed widespread. 

In the eastern half of Montgomeryshire where the half- 
timbered technique is normal, there are floors of attractive 

1 Descripíio, cap. X. 

2 By Mr. Evan Rowlands, Llanllyfni. 

3 Evans, J. : Letters . . . North Wales in the year 1798, p. 55. 

4 Cradock, Joseph : An Account of some 0/ the most romantic parts of 
North Wales (1777), p. 26. 

/ Pitched tloor, Plasau Duon, Carno, Montgomeryshire 

78 Pitched floor, I'en-rhiw, Trefeglwys, Montgomeryshire 

■ ■ ■■■ j^ 

79 Rouí of rods surmounted by clods, with slate above, 
at Tan-yr-ardd, Rhostryfan, Caernarvonshire 

80 Pair of interlocking ridge-tiles from Caerphilly, Glamorganshire 
now in the National Museum of Wales 

— * 

'. 1 


construction and design. These are the well-known 'pitched' 
floors formed of small stones or pebbles set on edge, cobble wise, 
forming geometrical patterns. These floors are now rapidly 
being destroyed. I found that housewives complained of the 
difhculty of keeping them clean, others — sunt lachrymae rerumì 
— wished to cover their floors with linoleum and the stones cut 
through it in a short time. Scores of these floors have therefore 
been torn up and relaid with tiles. As for the distribution of 
the pitching-technique, it is found in exterior work and in 

Fig. 58 Floor designs, Solva, Pembrokeshire, in 1908 

stables, etc, over a large area and is not confined to Wales. 
But in house-floors, I have found it only in Montgomeryshire. 
Further inquiry may possibly reveal a wider distribution. 
Wright 1 in his references to the word 'pitch', gives as a definition 
'to pave with small uneven stones set up edgeways' and quotes 
its use from Lancashire, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Northampton- 
shire, Herefordshire, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Wiltshire, 
Somersetshire and Devonshire. It is obvious however that in 
several of these counties, the term is used for external paving 
but a quotation from west Somersetshire ('Will 'ee have the 
floor a-put in way brick or else will 'ee hab'm a-pitcht ?') may 
indicate that such floors are also known there. 

M. F. H. Lloyd describing Abernodwydd, Llangadfan, 
Montgomeryshire, 2 writes : 'All rooms on the ground floor are 

1 Wright, Joseph : The English Dialect Dictionary (1903), IV, p. 527. 
3 Op. cit., pp. 84-5. 


paved with cobbles ; this carefully executed floor is an inter- 
esting example remaining practically entire.' I noticed when 
I visited the house that the initials of the ? pitcher are worked 
in the fioor in white pebbles. 

Plasau Duon, Carno, Montgomeryshire, was described in 
1904. 1 It was then stated that 'the floor of the kitchen is 
paved with small stones set edgewise in squares of alternate 
patterns, with a circle in the centre of the room enclosing a 
diamond square similarly treated'. 'As far as my experience 
goes' writes the then editor of Mont. Coll., 'it is unique for such 
a position.' This floor was photographed in 1939 and is illus- 
trated in plate 77. A floor of similar character but of a less 
pleasing design is found at Pen-rhiw, Trefeglwys (plate 78). 
The Trefeglwys district indeed formerly had many examples. 
I am informed 2 as follows : 'Dyma rai o'r ffermdai y ceir hwynt : 
Penddôl, Pen-y-graig, Rhyd-y-carw, Talgarth, ac ymron bob 
un o'r tyddynnod lleiaf. Credaf fod yno un go dda ers talm ar 
gegin y Ffìnnant. Ofnaf fod rhai wedi'u codi yn yr ugain 
mlynedd diwethaf a'u llorio efo tiles coch neu las.' [These are 
some of the farmhouses where they are found : Penddôl, 
Pen-y-graig, Rhyd-y-carw, Talgarth and nearly all the 
smaller tyddynnod. I believe that there used to be a 
good example in the kitchen at Ffinnant. I fear that some 
have been pulled up during the last twenty years and floored 
with red or blue tiles.] There are several examples too in 
Carno parish. Pryce in his 'History of the Parish of Llan- 
dysilio' (Montgomeryshire) 3 writes : 'The farmhouses and 
cottages of that period [had] the floors paved with small 
pebbles, clay or cement, and occasionally with tiles or 

Flag-stones were introduced in many areas where local 
supplies were available and such supplies 'overflowed' into 
neighbouring districts. The slate quarries of north Wales 
for instance provided flooring stone for a large area and in 

1 Mont. Coll., 1904, p. 110. 

2 By the Reverend Stephen O. Tudor, M.A., B.D. (letter dated 17th 
February, 1939), who was brought up at Rhyd-y-carw. 

*Op. cit., p. 258. 


some parts of the north-Wales counties flagstone flooring was 
— and still is — a normal feature. In the same way, floors of 
Pennant stone are to be found in south Wales. The recon- 
structed farmhouse-kitchen in the National Museum of Wales 
is so floored from material acquired from a Brecknockshire 


Roof coverings in Wales as in neighbouring countries have 
consisted until recently of two classes of materials : thatch 1 
and stone. These will be considered here in turn. 

Thatch in the sense of vegetable matter, in Wales has 
consisted of many materials : turf, fern, heather, heath, rushes 
or reeds, and straw. Very often two or more of these materials 
were used together, but not always. Ap Vychan writes 2 of 
his home, Tan-y-castell, Llanuwchllyn, Merionethshire, as 
'tŷ bychan a'i do o redyn y mynydd-dir' [a small house with its 
roof of mountain fern]. Bwlch Du, Mynydd Hiraethog, 
Denbighshire, on the road from Cerrig-y-drudion to Denbigh 
is described in 1916 as having a heather roof. 3 When I visited 
it in 1938, the roof had a heather under-thatch covered with 
rush thatching, the ridge being formed of sods. 

An under-thatch indeed has always been a common feature. 
The Land Commissioners (1896) describe as normal — particu- 
larly of Carmarthenshire — a roof thus built : 'On the rafters 
are laid rough boughs and twigs as a lower layer, on which 
is again placed another layer, of rushes, heather or fern, which 
in turn is covered by a proper thatch of straw.' 4 It seems 
however that the lowest layer was often of wattle. This is 
illustrated in the Strata Florida (Cardiganshire) house, fig. 35. 
At Llanberis (Caernarvonshire), Williams writes (1892) of a 
'tô o wiail plethedig' 5 — [a roof of woven rods]. At Tal-y-llyn 

1 The term 'thatch' is now only applied to roof coverings of vegetable 
matter, and is so used here. But it should be remembered that the old 
English 'thacli' originally applied to roof coverings of all kinds. 

2 Cymru, 1892, II, p. 14. 
'Cymru, 1916, II, p. 79. 

4 Report, p. 693. 

5 Williams, W. : Hynafiaethau . . . Plwyf Llanberis (1892), p. 80. 


(Merionethshire) the 1847 Education Commissioners state : 
The roofs are wattled.' 1 Of west Montgomeryshire, Peate 
writes (1887) : 'Gwnelid y to trwy osod coed o'r cant i fyny i'r 
nenbren o bob tu ac yna plethid hwy wrth y nenbren â gwiail. 
Gosodid gwiail cryfion ar draws y rhai hyn ac yna toid yn 
gyffredin â brwyn yr hyn a wnaed yn drwchus ac a orffenid yn 
lled drefnus.' 2 [The roof was made by placing timbers from the 
wallplate up to the ridgepiece on both sides : they were then 
woven to the ridgepiece with withes. Strong withes were 
placed across them and the roof was then generally thatched 
with rushes, which was done thickly and finished off neatly.] 

John Evans described (1798) the roofs of the cottages of 
parts of Caernarvonshire in some detail. 3 'The walls are about 
six feet high over which are raised maiden poles not even 
stripped of their bark for rafters, and pegged at top and bottom ; 
a few smaller ones interwoven serve the place of laths ; over 
these is placed heath or rushes, kept down by ropes of the 
latter, extending netwise over them.' Plate 79 illustrates the 
woodwork of a Caernarvonshire cottage (Tan-yr-ardd, Rhos- 
tryfan) which had a roof of rods tied together over the principal 
rafters, then covered with clods and a slate roofing on top. 

Throughout the upland area where thatching was formerly 
widespread, the use of straw was limited. A writer in 1918 
speaks of a cottage at Llanfihangel Glyn Myfyr (Denbighshire) 
the roof of which had a combination of rushes, straw and 
heather — 'ei do o frwyn a gwellt a manrug y mynydd'. 4 Hughes 
and North 5 write of reed-thatching, by which presumably they 
mean rush-thatching, as formerly a common feature in the 
Snowdonian area. They point out that the thatch was tied 
with withés to wattling woven in and out of the rafters or in 
some examples pegged to them. Plate 37 shows a rush-thatched 
cottage in Cardiganshire. Rushes are now used in the Llan- 
dybîe district of Carmarthenshire 6 but formerly straw was 

1 Reporí, p. 63. 

2 Op. cit. 

3 Evans, J. : Letters . . . North Wales in 1798, pp. 160-1. 
*Cymru, 1918, I, p. 71. 

b Op. cit., pp. 45-6. 

* Information from Reverend Gomer M. Roberts (letter dated 25th 
October, 1939). 


used and the rush thatch is found not to be so durable as straw. 
The old cottages had a straw thatch without exception as 
also did several of the farmhouses. Broom and heather 
together with fern were used to make a good foundation for the 

It was undoubtedly in the Vale of Glamorgan that the 
straw-thatching technique was most fully developed in Wales. 
Gwallter Mechain writes : l 'The origin of this neat thatching 
is in the prevailing practice of the county in hand-reaping their 
wheat-crops, without any confusion of ears and straw. A similar 
care is taken in thrashing on the floor. The stalks are crushed 
as little as possible. \Vhen taken up to be bound into whisps, 
called bellies, an iron hand-rake is sometimes used to comb out 
the loose or straggling straw. Sometimes the straw is drawn 
through an instrument, such as flax-dressers use, called a 
heckle. The butt-ends of the whisps are struck against the 
floor to make them even ; which are then neatly bound with a 
twisted bandage of straw and laid aside for the thatcher's use. 
. . . The straw is very little crushed by the flail in thrashing ; 
and even where thrashing machines are used, they are so con- 
structed that the straw does not pass through them so as to be 
rendered thereby in their opinion of less value for thatch-work. 
. . . The best straw in the opinion of the thatchers is that 
growing on the strong soil of the blue and grey lias limestone 
from St. Donat's to Pennarth cliffs. . . . Notwithstanding the 
neatness and thickness of the Glamorgan thatch-work, it is said 
it will not last without repairing for more than 15 to 18 years ; 
whereas in the more slovenly manner in which thatching is done 
in other inland counties it frequently lasts from 20 to 25 years. 
There the straw is considerably crushed in thrashing and is 
thrown promiscuously to the side of a pond or river to be well 
watered. It is then drawn from the wet couch and bound into 
sizeable bundles and these again laid in regular wetted heaps of 
several feet or yards and every layer wetted in succession. 
When fermentation commences, which is known by the heating 
of the heap, then is the time to lay it on the building ; the straw 

1 Davies, W. : General View of the Agricnlture and Domestic Economy 
ofSouth Wales (1815), I, pp. 140-3. 


yielding a vegetable gluten which is supposed to render the 
thatch more firm and durable. . . . Broom mixed with 
fermented straw makes a durable thatch.' Plate 49 illustrates 
a Vale of Glamorgan cottage straw-thatched in 1937. 

There are two methods of thatching well illustrated in Welsh 
practice. The first is the scolp thatch whereby the under- 
thatch is first secured to the timbering of the roof by means of 
straw bands. 'Small whisps or pilions of straw, neatly bound, 
are laid across and bound to the spars of the roof' writes 
Gwallter Mechain, 1 'as a foundation for the upper covering 
which is laid at right angle to the former layer. The thatcher 
divides the prepared whisp into two or three handfuls, which 
he lays on in succession, holding them firmly at the top with his 
left hand, whilst he is smacking the butt-ends with his right 
hand, to force the straw into a level line parallel with the spars 
or roof ; fastening each handful in succession with a bent and 
twisted stick called a scolp, and so proceeds until the roof be 
covered. ' The term scolp or scollop is f ound both in Glamorgan- 
shire and in south Pembrokeshire 'and is found in Irish as 
sgolb, a thatching peg, and it seems to follow the so-called 
"Celtic fringe" under variants as scob, scope, scolp and perhaps 
scrobe in Scotland, Ireland and Northumberland'. 2 In west 
Glamorganshire the form sgilp is also found. By this method 
therefore the top thatch is held down by 'ledgers' or rods 
which are secured by the hairpin-like scolps and by straw 
ropes held down in a similar manner (plates 82-4). Mr. T. J. 
David, probably the finest exponent of the thatching craft in 
Wales today, informs me that the underthatch is always sewn 
or bound to the roof. Today the sewing is done with tarred 
twine, but in the past in Glamorganshire long brambles were 
used for this purpose. Mr. David confirms Gwallter Mechain's 
description (above), particularly his statement concerning the 
'best straw'. 

The second method found in Wales of securing the thatch is 
the rope-thatch. By this method the thatch is held down by a 

1 Ibid., p. 140. 

2 Innocent, C. F. : op. cit., p. 199. 


net of ropes crossing at right angles, the ends of which were 
either weighted with stones which hung loose or were secured 
to stone or wooden pins set in the walls below the eaves (see 
plate 19). A good example of such a rope thatch is illustrated 
in Cytnru, 1899, II, p. 101. The ropes— of straw or rushes, etc. 
— were made by means of the rope-winders still to be found 
in the countryside. Rope-thatching is found throughout the 
Reltic areas of the British Isles but now seems to be practised 
in Wales only on stacks, the wooden pegs being pushed into the 

The use of fissile stone for roofing has been known in Wales 
from at least Roman times and examples of stone roofing are 
well known from the various Roman sites. Stone tiles were of 
course much used in medieval times : note, for example, the 
reference to Corndon (Montgomeryshire) stone in the 15th 
century (above p. 150). Stone used for rooftng in Wales can 
be divided into two main classes : (a) certain sedimentary 
and metamorphic rocks which have a fissile quality. But 
whereas slate may be cut in almost any thickness, rocks like 
shale and flagstone can only be split along the original plane 
of deposition into sheets the thickness of which is determined 
by that of the original beds. Such sheets were used for tiling 
on old buildings, e.g. a Roman villa at Llantwit Major 
(Glamorganshire) and many medieval buildings. The weight 
of such roofing generally necessitated a steep pitch in the roof. 
(b) Slate. There are several kinds to be found in Wales : in 
north Wales, the Cambrian and Ordovician strata of Caernarvon- 
shire and Merionethshire and the Silurian strata of Denbigh- 
shire provide roofing slates. The Cambrian strata (the 
Bethesda-Llanberis-Nantlle area) provide purplish or green 
slates ; the Ordovician strata (Blaenau Ffestiniog) provide 
slates darker in colour and finer in texture while the Silurian 
slates of Denbighshire are less smooth in texture and are less 
finely cleaved. In south Wales, the Ordovician rocks of 
Pembrokeshire and west Carmarthenshire provide pale grey, 
green or blue slates, some of the Pembrokeshire slates having 
a rough, spotted appearance. 


Romano-British tiles were of various shapes, hexagonal, 
rhomboid etc. and some of these shapes persisted in parts 
of Wales until modern times. Several details illustrating 
this continuity of tradition could be mentioned. The builder 
of the Roman villa at Llantwit Major, wrote John Storrie, 1 
'had finished the ridge of the roof with channelled oolite 
stones, worked to make a water-tight ridge, and covering the 
junction of the upper rows of both sides. This seems to be 
also done at Cefn Mabli [Monmouthshire] where, the old style 
of roof being more in keeping with the character of the roof, 
the tilestone roof is still retained.' In the National Museum of 
Wales there are a number of (Pennant) ridge-stones from the Caer- 
philly (Glamorganshire) district. They are an inch in thickness 
and are in pairs cut to be interlocking (plate 80). By such an 
interlocking method, they were held only by their own weight 
while the tiles of the roof were secured by a dowel of wood 
driven into the timbering of the roof through holes in the tiles. 
The method seems to have been well-known in Wales and the 
border counties. Hughes and North refer too to ridges of clay 
and lime-and-hair mortar 2 and when ridge-tiles were used 
in the Caernarfon district they were often coloured white and 
black or white and red alternately. Williams 3 refers to a house 
at Llanberis (Caernarvonshire) in 1806 which had a slated roof 
but with 'grass' (presumably clods) on the ridge and parts of 
the roof. 

It was formerly the custom to bed stone tiles and slates on 
vegetable material such as hay, straw or moss. Innocent 
points out that in the 15th century, hay and straw were bought 
to be laid under the slating of St. Peter's Church, Oxford 4 
and concludes that the custom was probably the survival of 
the roof covering of the earliest buildings. It also helped to 
keep out water and to make the house warm, since the earliest 
slates were hooked on to the wattling and there was no method 

1 'A Genuine Welsh Antiquity', in the South Wales News, 27th August, 

2 Oỳ. cií., p. 61. 

'Williams, W. : Hynafiaethau . . . Plwyf Llanberis, p. 70. 

*Op. cit., p. 181. 

85 Chimney-pot of wooden boards, New Ouay, Cardiganshire 

iá ^ 

86 'ln-and-out' partitioning, Penyberth, 
Caernarvonsnire : now in the National 
Museum of W'ales 


of rendering them behind. An existing example (in ruins) of 
such a roof is mentioned above — Tan-yr-ardd, Rhostryfan 
(plate 79). 

In north Wales, sphagnum moss was used for such bedding 
and from time to time the moss-man came round and with a long 
fìat iron implement would tuck fresh moss up under the slates 
from the outside. 1 Indeed these early slates, about | to § in. 
thick, came to be known as cerrig mwsog (moss stone). Their 
precursors, the earliest type known in north Wales, were 
from | to f in. thick and measured about 5 in. x 10 in. About 
the beginning of the 19th century, 'ton slates' (so called because 
they were sold by weight) made their appearance. They were 
similar in character to the cerrig mwsog 'but whereas the latter 
are generally not larger than 5 inches by 10 inches to 7 inches 
by 12 inches, the former are often enormous, 1 foot 6 inches 
by 2 feet not being at all uncommon'. 2 An example in the 
National Museum of Wales measures 4 ft. by 2 ft. 8 in. The 
next development was to fìx the sizes of slates in the quarries. 
Though at first they retained their small and thick character, 
they were soon replaced by thin uniform slates which by their 
indiscriminate use have done much to ruin the beauty of the 
countryside. To quote William Morris : 3 'Thin Welsh Blue 
Slates (one of the greatest curses of the age).' 

The older small un-uniform Welsh slates are still to be 
seen on old buildings in many parts of the country : they 
were exported too and were used, for instance, on the roofs 
of some of the Cambridge colleges. 4 

Mr. Beynon Davies informs me that in central Cardiganshire, 
'llechi Aberteifi' (Cardigan slates) have been used, a heavier, 
thicker and more brittle slate than those of north Wales. In 
roofing with these, the largest were fixed nearest the eaves, 
the size of the slates diminishing upwards towards the ridge. 
On outbuildings, an economy was effected by a reduced use of 
slates, a method known by the untranslatable term tô brat. 


1 North, H. L. : op. cit., p. 100. 
Hughes, H. H., and North, H. L. : op. cit., pp. 46-7. 

3 The Collected Works of William Morris, Vol. XXII (1914), p. 409. 

4 Innocent, C. F. : op. cit., p. 177. 


In several of the west Wales counties, from Pembrokeshire 
to Anglesey, where the winds are often of gale force, the roofs 
are weighted by slabs of quarried stone mortared on to the 
slates down each of the gables (plate 41) — a well-known 
feature too in Ireland. 

In medieval times, thatch was required by law to be white- 
washed to reduce the danger of fìre. The custom in Wales has 
survived to be transferred too to the slate roofs. Whitewashed 
thatch is still to be found occasionally in some of the west-coast 
villages while the slate roofs are cement- or white-washed. 
Mortar and cement indeed seem to have taken the place of moss 
for pointing slates, while the whitewash, which is of little prac- 
tical use adds to the aesthetic value. This is well illustrated 
in many Pembrokeshire cottages where the white roofs, toned 
by the effect of the south-westerly winds, and in harmony with 
the walls, have a most pleasing effect. 

The universal practice of whitewashing in the Welsh country- 
side down to recent times has already been noted. North 
has pointed out 1 how some Welsh churches continued the 
practice 'till quite recent times. Lewis's Topographical 
Dictionary mentions that many were whitewashed as late as 
1833, some like Llanrug in Arfon, roof and all.' 


In the past, the cottages and farmhouses of Wales have 
provided evidence of almost every stage in the development of 
the chimney. We may refer fìrst to the simple hole in the 
roof. Early in the 19th century John Evans wrote of Caernar- 
vonshire houses that 'many are destitute of chimneys, the smoke 
making its escape by an aperture at the extremity of the 
building' 2 — it is not clear whether this was in the roof or not, 
but it was probably the type he had described earlier (1798) 
in his letters : 'An aperture in the roof serves for a chimney. 
This is not made directly over the fire lest the rain should 
extinguish it but a little distance from the perpendicular line. 

1 North, H. L. : op. cit., p. 83. 

2 Evans, J. : Beauties of England and Wales (1812), XVII, p. 322. 


The smoke therefore as may be expected fills the place before 
it is able to obtain yent.' 1 This is indeed the simplest type 
of 'chimney' possible. 

A development from it was the introduction of the wattle- 
and-daub louvre. This was a three-sided canopy (the end wall 
forming the fourth side) of a conical shape fixed about 5 to 6 ft. 
above the fireplace with its open apex in the hole in the roof 
(plate 81). It served to collect and guide the smoke from the 
fire up to the roof and out. These louvres were in almost all 
cases of wattle — often indeed almost fine basket-work, and 
daubed with clay or clay and cow-dung. Cow-dung is still 
considered by rural builders to be the finest lining possible for 
chimneys and the writer's father, who was architect for 
several houses in mid-Wales during the first thirty years of the 
present century, always insisted on its use. I find by enquiry 
that the practice is fairly general in the countryside, one of the 
reasons given being that dried cow-dung withstands the heat 
and 'hardens like iron' whereas mortar becomes brittle and 

Now we have already shown that as a general rule, the roofs 
of Welsh houses were wattled. We find then not only a wattled 
roof but a wattled louvre and it was natural that the wattling 
came to be projected above the ridge to form a chimney 'pot'. 
In thatched houses this was also thatched (plate 82). But in 
slated houses the wattled projection of the chimney could not 
be treated in the same manner as the roof. And so we find 
Evans describing the houses of the village of Llan-ym-Mawddwy 
(Merionethshire) in 1798 as having a 'roof . . . covered with broad 
coarse slates and the chimney formed by a hole surrounded for 
about two feet high with small sticks [the wattle] kept in place 
by a rush or hay rope'. 2 Aikin in 1797 had described the houses 
of Cwm Cynllwyd (Merionethshire) similarly : 'The roof is com- 
posed of broad irregular pieces of coarse slate, in which a large 
hole encircled by sticks that are fastened together by a straw 
rope serves the purpose of a chimney.' 3 In the 19th century 

1 Evans, J. : Letters . . . North Wales in 1798, p. 66. 

2 Ibid. 

3 Aikin, A. : op. cit., p. 33. 

P 2 


however, when brick came into use in folk building, the wattled 
chimney was sometimes encased in brick. Writing of the 
houses of Brecknockshire, Radnorshire and Cardiganshire, the 
1847 Education Commissioners state : 'Brick chimneys are 
very unusual in these cottages : those which exist are usually 
in the shape of large cones, the top being of basfcetworá.' 1 

The inside of the louvre, it has been noticed, was daubed with 
clay or clay and cow-dung. To reduce the risk of fire, this daub 
was carried up through the chimney and finished off neatly as a 
rim above the thatch on the outside (plate 83). So the exterior 
chimney gradually emerged. This clay rim and the wattle- 
work which formed its foundation were finally extended to form 
an exterior chimney of ordinary modern proportions (plate 84). 
It should be added that in some parts of west Wales, e.g. the 
New Çjuay district of Cardiganshire, the projecting wattle- 
work was encased with wooden boards (plate 85). 

Doors, Windows, Partitions 

This chapter would not be complete without some reference 
to miscellaneous details of construction which illustrate the 
persistence of old traditions in Welsh folk building. The refer- 
ences here are not intended to be exhaustive but only to indicate 
some features of interest. 

We have already seen that the door hurdle was a feature of 
the houses of the early Laws and that it also figured in a Strata 
Florida (Cardiganshire) house which was in existence in 1888. 
Evans describing (in 1798) 'the cottages of Caernarvonshire\ 
writes : 'door there is none : but this deficiency is supplied by 
a hurdle, formed of a few wattlings and rushes, which in bad 
weather is raised perpendicular to stop the gap'. 2 There are 
several references to such an arrangement. 

But a feature often met with down to the second half of the 
19th century was the harr-hung door. The harr and the hinge 
both reach in time to at least the Roman period. The hinged 
door is connected to its frame by a hinge and has been developed 

1 Report, p. 56. 

* Evans, J. : Letters . . . in North Wales in 1798, p. 161. 


in so many ways that a detailed discussion of it is beyond the 
scope of this work. The harr-hung door however is funda- 
mentally different. No hinge is required, and indeed no inde- 
pendent door-frame since the door is not fixed by means of such 

The harr is formed 'by prolonging the hanging stile of the door 
so that its upper part, suitably shaped, runs into a hole in the 
lintel or into a projecting "ear", and its lower part or a pin 
attached thereto, is fixed in a hole in the threshold : actually 
the whole door then turns on itself and not on hinges'. 1 This 
form of door-hanging has a wide distribution in time and space 
from the ancient Egyptians and Etruscans to modern times. 
North (1906) mentions that such a door, 'not older than the 16th 
or 17th century', is to be found at Llanrhychwyn church, 
Caernarvonshire. 2 The method was undoubtedly a common 
one throughout the Middle Ages in Britain. Peate, writing in 
1887, describing the doors of west Montgomeryshire cottages, 
states : 'Ni byddai uchter y tai hyn i'r cant ond tua dwy lath, 
ni fyddai'r drws yn fynych ond tua phum troedfedd, a byddai'n 
rhaid llamu tros wadn derw, neu drothwy, uchel i lawr y tŷ. 
Gosodid y drws i fyny drwy adael rhan o'i ochr yn hwy yn y 
ddeupen, y naill i fyned i le wedi ei baratoi iddo yn y trothwy, 
a'r llall i le cyffelyb yn y capan a dyna'r drws yn troi ar ei 
golyn.' 3 [The height of these houses to the eaves was only 
about two yards, the door was often only five feet, and one 
had to step over a high oak 'sole' or threshold to the floor of 
the house. The door was set up by leaving part of its side 
longer at both ends, one end to go into a place prepared for it 
in the threshold and the other into a similar place in the lintel, 
and the door turns on its pivots.] 

Windows have never been a prominent feature of folk 
architecture in Wales. There are many descriptions of houses 
whose only light was admitted through the doorway. In some 
instances there were 'lattices for the admission of light, formed 

1 Innocent, C. F. : op. cit., p. 239. 
2 North, H. L. : op. cit., p. 103. 
3 Peate, D. : op. cit. 


by interwoven sticlcs'. 1 Such a construction described as 
a 'ventilation panel' is fìgured by Parkinson and Ould 2 in 'The 
Buttas' Falconry near Weobley. Hughes and North refer 
to the development of such a lattice form in wood : it was in 
use in the cottages in the 17th and 18th centuries. 3 One of these 
writers, H. L. North, suggests 4 that the wooden lattice with 
its shutter came in 'probably in the 14th or 15th century' and 
was followed by the glass lattice window with diamond lead- 
lights in the 16th and 17th century. He points out that good 
examples of early glazing were to be seen (1906) at Trefriw, 
Caernarvonshire. But it is interesting to note from Evans's 
description above that the primitive lattice, in its earliest 
wattled stage, was found in the same county at the end of 
the 18th century. Charles Ashton, 5 writing of rural houses in 
the 19th century, mentions 'tai ag un haner o'r ffenestri yn 
ddellt neu wiail plethedig'. [Houses with one half of each 
window of woven laths or withes.] 

Hugh Evans, writing of the Merionethshire-Denbighshire 
border, 6 emphasizes how dark the houses were and how many 
of them had no window, one reason being the Window Tax. 
Peate writes : 'Gadewid lle bychan i ffenestr, bychan iawn 
yn aml fyddai hefyd, a'r gwydr yn aneglur.' 7 [A small space 
was left for a window, very small it often was and the glass 
not transparent.] An examination of the plates in this volume 
will show that most of the windows in the older houses were 
indeed small and few of them were made to open, a fact which 
explains why windows were broken when an inhabitant died, 
so that his spirit might escape to heaven. 

Finally, a type of partitioning which the present survey 
showed to have been general throughout Wales must be 
commented upon briefly. This is the 'in-and-out' boarding, 

1 Evans, J. : Letters . . . North Wales in iyç8, p. 160. 

2 Parkinson, J., and Ould, E. A. : op. cit., plate lxvi. 
8 Hughes, H. H., and North, H. L. : op. cit., p. 15. 

4 North, H. L. : op. cit., p. 99. 

6 Ashton, C. : 'Bywyd Gwledig yng Nghymru' in Cofnodion Eisteddfod 
Genedlaethol Bangor i8ço, p. 40. 

8 Evans, H. : op. cit., pp. 64-5. 

7 Peate, D. : op. cit. 


illustrated here (plate 86) by an example from Penyberth, 
Llŷn, Caernarvonshire, a house with features dating back to the 
end of the 15th century and destroyed by the Air Ministry. 
In this kind of partition, the boards are not placed in line but 
alternately backward and forward or 'in-and-out'. This 
method gives the partition a false appearance of thickness. 
North 1 has remarked upon its presence as the main partition 
in the single-roomed cottages of pre-17th century date in 
Caernarvonshire and at the other extreme of the Welsh 
countryside I have seen it used with great effect in more than 
one farmhouse in Monmouthshire. 

»North, H. L. : op. cit., p. 99. 


'Now let us end the talk about those qualities of invention 
and imagination with a word of memory and of thanks to the 
designers of time past. Surely it had been pity indeed, if so 
much of this had been lost as would have been if it had been 
crushed out by the pride of intellect that will not stoop to 
look at beauty unless its own kings and great men have had a 
hand in it. Belike the thoughts of the man who wrought this 
kind of art could not have been expressed in grander ways 
or more definitely, or, at least, would not have been ; therefore 
I believe I am not thinking only of my own pleasure, but of 
the pleasure of many people, when I praise the usefulness of 
the lives of these men, whose names are long forgotten, but 
whose works we still wonder at . . . 

'Let us admit that we are living in the time of barbarism 
betwixt two periods of order, the order of the past and the 
order of the future, and then, though there may be some of us 
who think (as I do) that the end of that barbarism is drawing 
near, and others that it is far distant, yet we can both of 
us, I the hopeful and you the unhopeful, work together to 
preserve what relics of the old order are yet left us for the 
instruction, the pleasure, the hope of the new. So may the 
times of present war be less disastrous, if but a little ; the 
times of coming peace more fruitful.' 1 

1 The Collected Worhs of William Morris, Vol. XXII, pp. 111-12, 317. 



The following list is of works which were of direct value in 
the preparation of this book or bear direct reference to problems 
discussed in it. For a complete list of English works published 
before 1830 on travel in Wales, Welsh topography, history 
and antiquities — most of which were consulted — the reader 
should see W. J. Hughes's Wales and the Welsh in English 
Literature, where an exhaustive bibliography appears on 
pp. 168-78, 189-200. Works of a general historical character 
are not included here except where they bear specifically on the 
subject of this work but R. T. Jenkins and W. Rees's A Biblio- 
graphy of the History of Wales (1931) should be consulted 
for works on, e.g., the political, social and economic back- 
ground. Periodicals and journals appear in the list only when 
they contain extensive papers on the subjects discussed : 
passing references in them are mentioned in the footnotes 
but not in the list. 

Abercrombie, P. and Kelly, S. A. : The Wye Valley Regional Tlanning 
Scheme', in The Welsh Housing and Derelopment Year Book, 1935. 
pp. 19-117. 
Addy, S. O. : The Evohttion of the English Honse. 1910. 
Agriculture, Board of : — 

General View of the Agriculture of the count[ies] of Monmouth, Radnor, 

Cardigan, Carmarthen, Brecknock. [Each separately] 1794. 
General View of the Agriculture of North Wales. 1794. 
General View of the Agriculture of the county of Glamorgan. 1796. 
General View of the Agriculture in the county of Perth. 1799. 
Aikin, A. : Journal of a Tour through North Wales. 1797. 
Allen, J. Romillv : 'Old Farm-Houses with Round Chimneys near 

St. David's', inArch. Camb., 1902, pp. 1-24. 
Ancient and Historical Monuments in Wales and Monmouthshire, Royal 
Commission on, County Inventories : — 
Montgomery. 1911. 
Fhnt. 1912. 
Radnor. 1913. 
Denbigh. 1914. 
Carmarthen. 1917. 
Merioneth. 1921. 
Pembroke. 1925. 
Anglesey. 1937. 
Anon. : A Trip to North-Wales. 1742. 

Ashton, C. : 'Bywyd Gwledig yng Nghymru', in Cofnodion Eisteddfod 
Genedlaethol Bangor, i8ço, pp. 36-92. 



Barber, J. T. : A Tour throughout South Wales and Monmouthshire. 1803. 
Barnwell, E. L. : 'Domestic Architecture of South Pembrokeshire', in 

Arch. Camb., 1867, pp. 193-204, 363-74; 1868, pp. 70-84. 
Batsford, H. and Fry, C. : The English Cottage. 1938. 
Bingley, W. : A Tourround NorthWales during the summer of 1798. 1800. 
Bosch-Gimpera, P. : Etnologia de la Península Ibèrica. 1932. 
Bowen, Ivor : The Statutes of Wales. 1908. 
Brown, G. Baldwin : The Arts in Early England. 1925. 
Brunhes, J. : Géographie humaine de la France. 1920-6. 
Brunn, D. : Fortidsminder og Nutidshjem paa Island. 1928. 
Bulleid, A. and Gray, H. St. George : The Glastonbury Lake Village. 


Cambrian Directory, The. 1800. 

Campbell, Àke : Trish Fields and Houses : a study of rural culture', 

in Béaloideas, V, 1935, pp. 57-74. 
Campbell, Àke : 'Notes on the Irish House', in Folkliv, 1937, pp. 207-34, 

and Folk-Liv, 1938, pp. 173-96. 
Cantrill, T. C. : 'The Hut-Circles on Gateholm, Pembrokeshire', in Arch. 

Camb., 1910, pp. 271-82. 
Cardozo, Maria : Citânia e Sabroso. 1938. 
Chalke, H. D. : An Investigation into the causes of the continued high 

death-rate from Tuberculosis in certain parts of north Wales. 1933. 
Clark, Graham : Archaeology and Society. 1939. 
Collingwood, R. G. : The Archaeology of Roman Britain. 1930. 
Commons' Inclosure, Select Committee on : Report and Minutes. 1845. 
Covernton, J. G. : 'Romano-British sites at Finchingfield', in Trans- 

actions of the Essex Archaeological Society, XXII, 1936-9, pp. 309-15. 
Cox, A. H. (and others) : 'The Geology of the St. David's District, 

Pembrokeshire', in the Proceedings of the Geological Association, 1930, 

pp. 241ff. 
Cradock, Joseph : An Account of some of the most romantic parts of North 

Wales. 1777. 

Danaher, Kevin : 'Old House Types in Oighreacht Ui Chonchubhair', 

in Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, LXVIII, 

1938, pp. 226-40. 
Davies, Ellis : The Prehistoric and Roman Remains of Denbighshire. 

Davies, Walter : General View of the Agriculture and Domestic Economy 

of North Wales. 1810. 
Davies, Walter : General View of the Agriculture and Domestic Economy 

of South Wales. 2 vols. 1814. 
Delamarre, M. J.-B. : 'Contribution à l'étude de l'habitat rudimentaire : 

les cabanes en pierre séche des environs de Gordes (Vaucluse)', in 

Comptes Rendus du Congrès International de Géographie, Paris, 1931, 

III, pp. 293-8. 
Demangeon, A. : 'L'habitation en France, essai de classification des 

principaux types', in Annales de géographie, XXX, 1920, pp. 352ff. 
[Dickinson, W.] : Cumbriana. 1875. 


Education in Wales, Commissioners of Inquiry into the State of : 

Report. 1847. 
Edwards, Griffìth : 'History of the parish of Garthbeibio' (Hafotai, or 

Summer dwellings), in Montgomeryshire Collections, VI, 1873, pp. 27-8. 
Ellis, T. P. : Welsh Tribal Law and Custom in the Middle Ages. 2 vols. 

Employment of Children, Royal Commission on the : Report. 1842. 
Employment of Children, Young Persons and Women in Agriculture, 

Commission on the : Third Report. 1867. 
Erixon, Sigurd : 'Svenska gârdstyper', in Föreningens för svensk hultur- 

historia tidskrift Rig, 1919, pp. 1-39. 
Erixon, Sigurd : Kulturhistoriska avdelningen. 1925. 
Erixon, Sigurd : 'Some primitive constructions and types of lay-out, 

with their relation to European rural building practice', in Folkliv, 

1937, pp. 124-55. 
Evans, E. Estyn : 'Donegal Survivals', in Antiçuity, 1939, pp. 207-22. 
Evans, G. Nesta : Social Life in Mid-Eighteenth Century Anglesey. 1 936. 
Evans, Hugh : Cwm Eithin. 1931. 
Evans, J. : Letters written during a tour through North Wales in iyg8. 

Evans, J. : Letters written during a tour through South Wales. 1804, 
Evans, John : The Beauties of England and Wales. Vol. XVII. 1812. 
Evans, T. C. : History of Llangynwyd. 1887. 

Fenton, R. : Historical Tour through Pembroheshire. Recent edition, 

Fleure, Herbert J. : 'Problems of Welsh Archaeology', in Arch. Camb., 

1923, pp. 225-42. 
Forestry Commission : Report on Census of Woodlands. 1924. 
Fox, Sir Cyril : 'Peasant Crofts in North Pembrolceshire', in Antiquity, 

1937, pp. 427-40. 
Fox, Sir Cyril : The Personality of Britain. 3rd edit., 1938. 
Fox, Cyril and Aileen : 'Forts and Farms on Margam Mountain, 

Glamorgan', in Antiguity, 1934, pp. 345-413. 
Fox, Aileen : 'Dinas Noddfa, Gelligaer Common, Glamorgan. Excava- 

tions in 1936', in Arch. Camb., 1937, pp. 247-68. 
Fox, Aileen : 'Early Welsh Homesteads on GelUgaer Common, 

Glamorgan. Excavations in 1938', in Arch. Camb., 1939, pp. 163-99. 
Eynes-Clinton, O. H. : The Welsh V 'ocabulary of the Bangor District. 


Geological Survey : Memoirs : — 

Ammanford. 1907. 

Anglesey. 1919. 

Cardiff 1912. 

Carmarthen. 1909. 

Flint, Hawarden and Caergwrle. 1924. 

Haverfordwest. 1914. 

Merthyr Tydfil. 2nd edit., 1932. 

Milford. 1916. 


Newport. 2nd edit., 1909. 

Pembrohe and Tenby. 1921. 

Pontypridd and Maesteg. 2nd edit., 1917. 

Rhyl, Abergele and Colwyn Bay. 1885. 

Wrexham. 1928. 
Giffen, A. E. van : 'Der Warf in Ezinge, Provinz Groningen, Holland, 

und seine westgermanischen Häuser', in Germania, Ameiger der 

Römisch-Germanischen Rommission, XX, 1936, pp. 40-7. 
Gilpin, W. : Observations on the River Wye and several parts of South 

Wales . . .in iyyo. 1782. 
Godfrey, W. H. : The English Staircase. 1911. 
Gotch, J. Alfred : The Growth of the English House. 1909. 
Gotch, J. Alfred : Old English Houses. 1925. 
Gould, S. Baring (and others) : 'Exploration of Moel Trigarn', in Arch. 

Camb., 1900, pp. 189-211. 
Grieg, Sigurd : J ernaldershus pd Lista. 1934. 
Griffith, Ll. Wyn : The Wooden Spoon. 1937. 
Gruffydd, W. J. : Owen Morgan Edwards, Cofiant, I. 1937. 

Harris, H. : Rhondda MSS. (in typescript in the National Museum of 

Wales). n.d. 
Hatt, Gudmund : 'Prehistoric Fields in Jylland', in Acta Archaeologica, 

II, 1931, pp. 117-58. 
Health, Ministry of : Report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Anti- 

Tuberculosis Service in Wales and Monmouthshire. 1939. 

Historical Monuments, England, Royal Commission on : — 

Herefordshire, I, South-west. 1931. 

Herefordshire, II, East. 1932. 

H erefordshire , III, North-west. 1934. 
Holme, C. : Old English Country Cottages. 1906. 
Horsfall-Turner, E. R. : Walks and Wanderings in County Cardigan. 

n.d. [after 1902]. 
Howe, J. Allen : The Geology of Building Stones. 1910. 
Hughes, H. Harold : 'Prehistoric Remains on Penmaenmawr (known as 

Braich y Dinas)', in Arch. Camb., 1923, pp. 243-68. 
Hughes, H. Harold and North, H. L. : The Old Cottages of Snowdonia. 

Hutton, W. : Remarhs upon North Wales. 1803. 
Hyde, H. A. : Welsh Timber Trees. 1935. 

Innocent, C. F. : The Development of English Building Construction. 

Jenkins, D. E. : BeddGelert: its facts.fairies, andfolk-lore. 1899. 
Jones, Edmund : A Geological, Historical and Religious Account of the 

parish of Aberystruth. 1779. 
Jones, R. W. : Hanes hen furddynod plwyf Llansannan. 1910. 
Jones, S. R. : English Village Homes. 1936. 
Jones, Theophilus : A History of the County of Brecknock. 1805-9. 


Jones, Thomas : Gerallt Gymro : Hanes y DaithTrwy Gymru: Disgrifiad 

o Gymru. 1938. 
Jones, T. Gwynn : 'Social Life as reflected in the Laws of Hywel Dda', 

in Aberystwyth Studies, X, 1928, pp. 103-28. 
Jones, T. Gwynn : Welsh FolMore and Folk Custom. 1930. 

Knoop, D. and Jones, G. P. : The Medieval Mason. 1933. 

Labour, Royal Commission on : The Agricultural Labourer. Vol. II. 

Wales. Reports by Messrs. D. Lleufer Thomas and C. M. Chapman. 

Labour, Royal Commission on : The Agricultural Labourer : England, 

Monmouthshire. 1893. 
Land in Wales and Monmouthshire, The Royal Commission on : Report, 

Minutes of Evidence etc. 7 vols. 1896. 
Lange, Konrad : Haus und Halle : Studien zur Geschichte des antihen 

Wohnhauses und der Basilika. 1885. 
Lauridsen, P. : 'Om dansk og tysk Bygningsskik i Sonderjylland', in 

Historish Tidsshrift, 6, Rcekke, VI, pp. 43-113. 
Laws, E. : The History of Little England beyond Wales. 1888. 
Leland, J. : Itinerary in Wales, 1536-9. 1906 edit. 
Lewis, E. A. : 'A Contribution to the commercial history of mediaeval 

Wales', in Y Cymmrodor, XXIV, 1913, pp. 86-118. 
Lewis, E. A. : The Welsh Port Books (1550-1603). 1927. 
Lewis, H. (and others) : Cywyddau Iolo Goch ac Eraill, 13 50-1 450. 1925. 
Ling, A. G. : 'Peasant Architecture in the Northern Provinces of Spain', 

in the Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Set 3, Vol. 43, 

1935-6, pp. 845-63. 
Lloyd, Sir Johh Edward : Hywel Dda. 1928. 
Lloyd, Sir John Edward : History of Wales to the Edwardian Conguest. 

2 vols. New edition, 1939. 
Lloyd, M. F. H. : 'Abernodwydd', in Montgomeryshire Collections, LXIV, 

1935-6, pp. 84-5. 
Lloyd, N. : A History of English Brickwork. 1934. 
Loth, J. : 'L'Ystoria Trystan et la Çjuestion des Archétypes', in Revue 

Celtigue, XXXIV, 1913, pp. 365-96. 

Macalister, R. A. S. : The Archaeology of Ireland. 1928. 

Malkin, B. H. : The Scenery, Antiquities and Biography of South Wales 

. . . in 1803. 1807. 
Mathews, W. : The Miscellaneous Companions. 1786. 
Matley, C. A. : 'The Pre-Cambrian Complex and Associated Rocks of 

South-Western Lleyn', in Çuarterly Journal of the Geological Society, 

LXXXIV, 1928, pp. 440-504. 
Meidhre, Seán Mac Giolla : 'Some notes on Irish Farm-houses', in 

Béaloideas, VIII, 1938, pp. 196-200. 
Meyer, Kuno : 'Eine Episode in "Tristan und Isolde" und das celtische 

Haus', in Zeitschrift für Romanische Philologie, XXVI, 1902, pp. 716-7. 



Monroe, L. : 'A Crutch Roof truss at Lloran Ganol, Montgomeryshire', 

in Arch. Camb., 1933, pp. 122-5. 
Monroe, L. : 'Plas Ucha, Llangar, Merioneth', in Arch. Camb., 1933, 

pp. 80-7. 
Morris, Meredith : A Glossary of the Demetian Dialect. 1910. 
Morris, R. P. : Cantref Meirionydd. 1890. 
Morris, William : 'The Influence of Building Materials upon Architec- 

ture' (1892), 'The External Coverings of Roofs' (c. 1890), in The 

Collected Works of William Morris, Vol. XXII, pp. 391-409. 1914. 
Moss, Fletcher : Pilgrimages to Old Homes mostly on the Welsh Border. 

Mühlhausen, L. : 'Contributions to the Study of the Material Culture 

of the Gaoltacht', in Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological 

Society, XXXVIII, 1938 and XXXIX, 1939. 

Nash-Williams, V. E. : 'An Early Iron Age Hill-Fort at Llanmelin near 

Caerwent', in Arch. Camb., 1933, pp. 237-346. 
Nash-Williams, V. E. : 'Sudbrook Excavations, 1936', in Arch. Camb., 

1936, pp. 314-16. 
Newell, R. H. : Letters on the Scenery of Wales. 1821 
North, F. J. : The Evolution of the Bristol Channel. 1929. 
North, F. J. : Coal, and the Coalfields in Wales. 1931. 
North, H. L. : The Old Churches of Arllechwtdd. 1906. 

O'Curry, E. (edited W. K. Sullivan) : On the Manners and Customs of the 

Ancient Irish. 3 vols. 1873. 
OHver, B. : The Cottages of England of the ióth, iyth and i8th centuries. 

Olsen, Magnus : Farms and Fanes of Ancient Norway. 1928. 
O'Neil, B. H. St. J. : 'Breiddin Hill Camp Excavations, 1934', in Arch. 

Camb., 1935, pp. 161-2. 
O'Neil, B. H. St. J. : 'Excavations at Breiddin Hill Camp, Mont- 

gomeryshire, 1933-35', in Arch. Camb., 1937, pp. 86-128. 
O'Neil, B. H. St. J. : 'Excavations at Caerau Ancient Village, Clynnog, 

Caernarvonshire, 1933 and 1934', in The Antiçuaries Journal, XVI, 

1936, pp. 295-320. 
Ô Riordáin, S. P. and O'Relly, M. J. : 'Old House Types near Lough 

Gur, Co. Limerick', in Féil-sgríbhinn Eóin Mic Néill, pp. 227-36. 1 940. 
Owen, A. : The Ancient Laws and Institutes of Wales. 2 vols. 1841. 
Owen, Elias : 'Arvona Antiqua', in Arch. Camb., 1867, pp. 102-8 ; 1872, 

pp. 239-48. 
Owen, Elias : 'On the Circular Huts sometimes called Cyttiau'r Gwyddelod, 

and their Inhabitants', in Y Cymmrodor , IX, 1888, pp. 120-40. 
Owen, George : The Description of Penbrokshire. Edit. 1892. 

Parkinson, J. and Ould, E. A. : Old Cottages, Farm-Houses and other 
Half-Timber Buildings in Shropshire, Herefordshire and Cheshire. 

Peate, David : Hen Ffyrdd a Hen Dai adfeiliedig Llanbrynmair . (MSS. 
in private possession.) 1887. 


Peate, Iorwerth C. : Guide to the Collection of Welsh Bygones [in the 

National Museum of Wales]. 1929. 
Peate, Iorwerth C. : Y Crefftwr yng Nghymru. 1933. 
Peate, Iorwerth C. : Guide to the Collection Illustrating Welsh Folk 

Crafts and Industries [in the Nationaî Museum of Wales]. 1935. 
Peate, Iorwerth C. : 'Some Welsh Houses', inAntiguity, 1936, pp. 448-59. 
Pennant, T. : The Journey to Snowdon. 1781. 
Pennant, T. : Tours in Wales. 3 vols. 1810. 
Pessler, Wilhelm : Handbuch der Deutschen Volkskunde Band 1-3, 

passim. 1936-. 
Petersen, Jan : Gamle gárdsanlegg i Rogaland. 2 vols. 1933 and 1936. 
Phillips, C. W. : 'The Excavation of a hut site at Parc Dinmor, Penmon, 

Anglesey', in Arch. Camb., 1932, pp. 247-59. 
Phillips, C. W. : 'The Excavation of a hut group at Pant-y-Saer in the 

parish of Mathafarn-Eithaf, Anglesey', in Arch. Camb., 1934, pp. 1-36. 
Pinnock's County Histories : North Wales. 1822. 
Powell, A. H. : 'Country Building and Handicraft in Ancient Cottages 

and Farmhouses', in The Studio Yearbooh of Decoratẁe Art, 1920, 

pp. 27-48. 
Pringle, J. and George, T. N. : British Regional Geology : South Wales. 

Pryce, T. E. : 'Half-timbered houses of Montgomeryshire', in Mont- 

gomeryshire Collections, XVII, 1884, pp. 149-64, 359-38; XVIII, 

1885, pp. 155-68; XIX, 1886, pp. 125-8, 351-4; XXI, 1887, 

pp. 303-10 ; XXII, 1888, pp. 257-60. 

Rees, W. : South Wales and the March, 1284-141$. 1924. 

Rees, T. : The Beauties of England and Wales. Vol. XVIII. 1815. 

Rhys, J. and Brynmor-Jones, D. : The Welsh People. 6th edit., 1913. 

Richards, Robert : Cymru'r Oesau Canol. 1933. 

Richards, T. : Wales under the Indulgence, 1672-167$. 1928. 

R[ichards], W. : Wallography or The Britton Describ'd. 1682. 

Richmond, I. A. : Trish Analogies for the Romano-British Barn 

Dwelling', in The Journal of Roman Studies, XXII, 1932, pp. 96-106. 
Richthofen, Bolko Frhr. von : 'Zur Bearbeitung der vorgeschichtlichen 

und neueren kleinen Rundbauten der Pyrenäenhalbinsel', in Homen- 

agem a Martins Sarmento, pp. 332-41. 1933. 
Roberts, E. Stanton : Peniarth MS. 67. 1918. 
Roberts, Gomer M. : Hanes Plwyf Llandyb'ie. 1939. 
Roberts, T. and Williams, I. : The Poetical Works of Dafydd Nanmor. 

R[obinson], G. G. : 'Hut Dwellings in Montgomeryshire', in Arch. Camb., 

1880, pp. 25-30. 
Robinson, G. W. : 'The Soils of Wales', in Guide Book for the Excursion 

round Britain of the Third International Congress of Soil Science, 

pp. 260-2. 1935. 
Roussell, Aage : Norse Building Customs in the Scottish Isles. 1934. 

Sayce, R. U. : "Hill Top Camps" with special reference to those of 
north Cardiganshire', in Trans. Hon. Society of Cymmrodorion, 1920-1, 
pp. 99-134. 


Seebohm, F. : The English Village Community. 1915. 

Shuffrey, L. A. : The English Fireplace and its Accessories. 1912. 

Smith, B. and George, T. N. : British Regional Geology : North Wales. 

Stanley, W. O. : 'On the remains of the ancient circular habitations in 

Holyhead Island, called Cyttiau'r Gwyddelod, at Ty Mawr, on the S.W. 

slope of Holyhead Mountain', in The Archaeological Journal, XXIV, 

1867, pp. 229-42. 
Stapledon, [Sir] R. G. (edit.) : A Survey of the Agricultural and Waste 

Lands of Wales. 1936. 
Stenberger, M. : 'Remnants of Iron Age Houses on Öland', in Acta 

Archaeologica, II, 1931, pp. 93-104. 
Stenberger, M. : öland under äldre Järnáldern. 1933. 
Strzygowski, J. : Der Norden in der bildenden Kunst Westeuropas. 1928. 
Strzygowski, J. : Early Church Art in Northern Europe. 1928. 

Thomas, F. W. L. : 'Notice of Beehive Houses in Harris and Lewis', in 

Proc. ofthe Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, III, 1857-60, pp. 127-44. 
Thomas, F. W. L. : 'On the Primitive Dwellings and Hypogea of the 

Outer Hebrides', in Proc. of the Society of Antiguaries of Scotland, VII, 

1866-8, pp. 153-95. 
Thompson, A. Hamilton : The English House. 1936. 
Trefois, Cl. V. : 'La Technique de la Construction rurale en bois', in 

Folk, 1937, pp. 55-73. 

Vaughan, H. M. : 'A Synopsis of Two Tours made in Wales in 1775 and 
in 1811' in Y Cymmrodor, XXXVIII, 1927, pp. 45-78. 

Vreim, H. : 'The Ancient Settlements in Finnmark, Norway : Cabins 
and Tents', in Folkliv, 1937, pp. 169-204. 

Wade-Evans, A. W. : Welsh Medieval Law. 1909. 

Ward, J. : Romano-British Buildings and Earthworhs. 1911. 

Warner, R. : A Walk through Wales in 1797. 1798. 

Watson, J. : British and Foreign Building Stones. 1911. 

Wheeler, R. E. M. : 'Roman and Native in Wales : an imperial frontier 

problem', in Trans. Hon. Society of Cymmrodorion, 1920-1, pp. 40-96. 
Wheeler, R. E. M. : Prehistoric and Roman Wales. 1925. 
[Wheeler, R. E. M.] : 'Hut-circles and cattle enclosures . . . Blaenrhondda, 

Glamorgan', in The Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies, I, 1921-3, 

p. 70. 
Wickham, A. K. : The Villages of England. 1932. 
Wigstead, H. : Remarhs on a Tour to North and South Wales in the year 

1797. 1800. 
Willans, J. B. : The Byways of Montgomeryshire. 1905. 
Williams, G. J. : Hanes Plwyf Ffestiniog. 1882. 
Williams, H. : 'The Romano-British Site at Rhostryfan, Caernarvon- 

shire', in Arch. Camb., 1922, pp. 335-45 ; 1923, pp. 87-113. 
[Williams], H. Cernyw : Hynafiaethau Edeyrnion. 1878. 
Williams, Ifor : Pedeir Keinc y Mabinogi. 1930. 


Williams, Ifor : 'Trystan ac Esyllt', in Bulletin of the Board of Celtic 

Studies, V, 1929-31, pp. 115-29. 
Williams, Ifor and Roberts, Thomas : Cywyddau Dafydd ap Gwilyrn a'i 

Gyfoeswyr. 1935. 
Williams, Ifor and Williams, J. Ll. : Gwaith Guto'r Glyn. 1939. 
Williams, S. W. : 'An Ancient Welsh Farm-House', in Arch. Camb., 

1899, pp. 320-5. 
Williams, W. : Hynafiaethau a Thraddodiadau Plwyf Llanberis a'r 

A mgylchoedd . 1892. 
Willis-Bund, J. W. : The Blach Booh of St. David's. 1902. 

Young, Arthur : ' A Tour in Wales . . . during two visits in 1 776 and 1 778' , 
in Annals of Agriculture, VIII, 1792, pp. 31-51. [A facsimile reprint 
was published in 1932 as No. 14 of a Series of Reprints of Scarce Tracts 
in Economic and Political Science by the London School of Economics.] 

Zangenberg, H. : Danshe Bondergaarde : Grundplaner og Konstruktioner. 


(arranged under counties and localities) 

Bodffordd, 64 
Gwalchmai, 64 
Holyhead : 

Tŷ-mawr, 57 
Llanddaniel, 113 
Llanfair Mathafarn Eithaf : 

Pant-y-saer, 43 
Penmon : 

Parc Dinmor, 37, 38 
Trefdraeth, 64 

Bryn-mawr : 

Cwm-nant-gam, Llanelly Hill, 
Penderyn : 

Hepste Fawr, 84 

Aberconwy : 

Cymryd, 115 
Bardsey Island, 16 
Bethesda : 

Gerlan, 43 
Clynnog : 

Caerau, 42, 57 

Penrhiwiau, 90 
Conway, 175, 189, 191 

Derwen-deg, 90 
Llanberis, 145, 201, 206 

Dôl-tŷ-du, 101 

Ty'n-y-weirglodd, 185 
Llandegai, 1 16 
Llanllechid, 146 
Llanllyfni : 

Bwlch Mawr, 198 
Llithfaen, 22, 104 
Llŷn, 7, 16, 191 

Penyberth, 7, 213 
Nefyn, 16 
Portmadoc : 

Cae Crwn, Glanmorfa, 189 
Pwllheli, 116 
Rhiw : 

Tŷ Isaf, 104, 114 

Tŷ Uchaf, 113 
Rhosgadfan : 

Ty'n-rhosgadfa, 114-15 

Rhostryfan, 60 

Llainfadyn, 115 

Tan-yr-ardd, 202 
Snowdon : 

Waterfall Station, 194 
Trefriw, 212 

Abermeurig : 

Gwastod, 81 
Aberystwyth : 

Glan-paith, 106 
Blaencaron : 

Nantylles, 81 

Ty'n-coed uchaf, 79, 81 
Blaenpennal, 184 

Gwarfigyn, 81 
Cellan, 107 
Cribyn : 

Pensarn-mynach, 105 
Dyffryn Aeron, 193 
Horeb, 105 
Llanbadarn Odwyn : 

Llwyn-rhys, 6, 78-9, 189 
Llangeitho : 

Ty'ndolau, 79 
Llanwnnen : 

Gwarcwm, 81-2 
Llwyncelyn, 193 
New Çjuay, 210 
Penrhyn-coch : 

Brogynin, 195 
Ponterwyd, 100 
Pont-rhyd-fendigaid, 102 
Strata Florida, 101, 139, 201, 

Tregaron : 

Cwm Berwyn, 187 
Ysgubor-y-coed : 

Ty'n-pwll, 81 

Abergorlech : 

Maes-y-bidiau, 82 
Betws : 

Ystradaman, 76 
Cynghordy : 

Cefn-hirfryn, 82 




Cynwyl Gaeo, 102 
Llandeilo : 

Cefn-hendre, 75 

Cwm Crymlyn, 184 

Ffynnon Deilo, 75 

Lan, 70-2 

Nant-y-ffin, 76 

Tŷ'r celyn, 74 
Llandybie, 119-20, 196, 202 
Llansadwrn : 

Blaen-waun, 75 

Bwlch-y-gwynt, 76 

Cwmeilath, 76 

Esgair, 76 

Maes-y-rhiw, 76 
Llanybydder : 

Rhiwson isaf, Drefach, 82 
Marros, 191 
New Inn : 

Pant-mawr, 82, 184 
Pant-y-ffynnon : 

Ynys Llwchwr isaf, 82 
Pencader : 

Coedlannau, 82 

Gwndwn, 82 

Whithen, 82 
Pendine, 104 
Porth-y-rhyd : 

Erw Domi, 82 

Bylchau : 

Foel Eryr, 116 
Cerrig-y-drudion, 102, 116 
Denbigh : 

Galch Hill, 176 
Eglwysegl : 

Plas Uchaf, 176 
Gellifor : 

Rhydonnen, 176 
Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog : 

Pen-y-bryn, 148 
Llandyrnog, 123 

Glan-y-wern, 188 
Llanfihangel Glyn Myfyr, 202 
Llansannan : 

Cae Du, 152 
Llansilin : 

Lloran Ganol, 184, 188 

Sycharth, 149 
Mynydd Hiraethog : 

Bwlch Du, 201 
Rhos-llannerch-rugog, 101 
Ruthin, 106, 176 
Valeof Clwyd, 19, 123 
Yale, 188 

Hawarden, 184 
Mostyn, 102 

Bridgend, 122 
Cowbridge, 122, 123 
Coychurch, 121 
Llandow, 96 
Llanharran : 

Argoed Edwin, 84 
Llantrisant, 181 
Llantrithyd, 121 
Llantwit Major, 121-2 
Penmark, 121 
Penrice, 121 

Peterston-super-Ely, 121 
Pontypridd : 

Hendre, 84 
Rhondda, 198 

Blaenrhondda, 40ff. 

Dinas Isaf, Pen-y-graig, 66,84 
St. Athan, 121 
St. Hilary : 

Church House, 84 
St. Nicholas, 204 
Welsh St. Donats, 49 

Abergynolwyn : 

Meriafael Bellaf, 88 

Nant-llwyn-gwedd, 88 
Bala : 

Cefn-ddwysarn, 116 

Rhos-y-gwalia, 116 
Barmouth, 104, 196 
Cae'r Ceiliog : 

Wenallt Fawr, 88-9 
Corwen : 

Pen-y-coed uchaf, 70 
Cwm CynUwyd, 195, 209 
Dinas Mawddwy, 101, 124 

Braichmelyn, 24 
Dolgelley, 23, 76, 116, 194, 198 
Ffestiniog : 

Hafod Ysbyty, 189 
Friog, Y, 116 
Llandrillo, 99 
Llanfor : 

Nant-y-clawdd hen, 89 
Llangar : 

Plas Ucha, 189 
Llangelynin, 116 
Llanuwchllyn : 

Cae Rhys, 117 

Tan-y-castell, 201 
Llanycil, 99 



Llan-ym-Ma\vddwy, 209 
Llwyngwril, 117 
Mallwyd, 101, 198 
Mawddwy, 194 

Tal-y-llyn, 101, 104, 191, 195, 


Aberystruth, 29 
Blackwood, 122 
Cefn Mabli, 206 
Coldbrook, 151 
Llanishen, 102 
Raglan, 102, 120 
Rumney, 104, 122, 191 


Berriew, 180 
Caersws : 

Maes-mawr, 180 

Parc-pen-Prys, 180 
Carno : 

Plasau Duon, 180, 200 
Churchstoke : 

Bachelldre, 180 

Lack, 180 
Cwm Banw : 

Rhiwfelen, 119 
Garthbeibio, 48, 147 

Bryn Chwilod isaf, 119 

Bryn Chwilod uchaf, 119 

Llechog.CwmTwrch, 119, 197 

Pennantwrch, 148 

Ty'nsietin, 118, 197 

YWern-fach, 119 
Kerry : 

Pant-y-drain, 88 
Llanbrynmair, 3, 124, 145 
Llandinam Hall, 180 
Llandrinio, 150 
Llandysilio, 69 

Trederwen, 180 
Llanerfyl : 

Bryn-mawr, 7, 117-18, 184 
Llanfyllin, 106 
Llangadfan, 48 

Abernodwydd, 60, 126, 182, 
Llangurig : 

Dolhelfa, 88 
Llanidloes, 146, 178 

Bryn-du, 88 
Llansilin, — see also Denbigh- 
shire : 
Lloran Ganol, 184, 188 
Llanwrin : 

Mathafarn, 68 

Llanymynech, 117 
Llawr-y-glyn : 

Cefncloddiau, 182 
Machynlleth, 68, 107, 175 
Montgomery : 

Lymore, 178 
Newtown, 174, 178 : 

Penarth, 180 

Ysgafell, 180 
Pennant Melangell : 

Tŷ ucha, Cwm-llech, 88 
Penrhos, 178 

Llwyn, 180 
Pont-dôl-goch : 

Pertheirin, 180 
Trefeglwys : 

Ffinnant, 200 

Penddôl, 200 

Pen-rhiw, 200 

Pen-y-graig, 200 

Rhyd-y-carw, 180-1, 200 

Talgarth, 180, 200 
Welshpool, 175, 191 

Paradise Cottage, 119 


Gateholm, 40 

Haverfordwest, 104 

Llanychaer : 

Carn-deifog isaf , 1 1 1 
Llain-wen isaf, 109, 110 

Narberth, 106, 123 

St. David's, 16 

Clegyr Foea, 158, 162 
Croftufty, 158 
Gwrhyd Bach, 162 
Hendre Einon, 158, 164 
Llaethdy, 162 
Porth-mawr, 162 
Pwllcaerog, 158, 164 
Rhoson, 158, 162 
Trefeiddan, 162 
Trefelydr, 158 

St. Florence, 191 

St. Issells, 106, 191 

Solva, 198 

Trecŵn, 23 

Builth, 124 
Cwmdeuddwr, 120 
Cwm Elan : 

Llannerch-y-cawr, 86, 184 
Dyfîryn Claerwen : 

Ciloerwynt, 87, 184 
Rnighton, 175, 181 



Llaethdy : 

Great Mains, 105 
Llanbedr Painscastle : 

Llanbedr Hall, 182 

Presteigne, 181 
Rhayader : 

Nannerth Canol, 84, 86 


Abel, John, 181 

Aberthaw lime, 196 

Addy, S. û.,62 

Aikin, A., 194-5, 209 

aillt, 131 

Aisles, side, 137 

Allen, J. Romilly, 156ff. 

Alluvial deposits, 16 

Anglesey, geology of, 20-1 

Antonine column, 54 

Ap Vychan, 201 

Architecture, decency in, 2 ; is 

there Welsh, 3 ; peasant, 5 
Arfon-Snowdonia district, 16 
Arwystli, Lords of, 180 
Ashton, C, 212 
Asia Minor, 62 
aula, 81 

Bael'lje construction, 190 

Bakestone bread, 127 

Baking-pot, 95-6 

bangor, 46, 191 

Barnwell, E. L., 154-6 

Barrel-vaulting, 164 

Bede, 174 

Beds, cupboard, 103, 115, 117 

Beehive huts, 49ff. 

Berwyn hills, 18 

Betenson, W. F. W., 148 

Bideford, 96 

Black Book of Chirk, 130 

Black Book ofSt. David's, 152, 191 

Blegywryd, 130 

Bondman, 131 

bothan, — see Beehive huts 

Bower, 67, 126 

Brambles as wattle, 191 

Brecon town hall, 181 

Breuddwyd Rhonabwy, 197, — see 

also Mabinogion 
Brick-making, 15, 29, 35 ; in 

north Wales, 30 
Brick-nogging, 180 
Brittany, 62 
Brown, G. Baldwin, 174 
Brynmor-Jones, Sir D., 136 
Bwlch Oerddrws district, 24 
Bygones, 1 

caban, 47, 56 

Cadrawd, 84 

Caernarfon, medieval builders at, 

Caersws, Roman wattling at, 

191 ; Roman mortar at, 196 
Cambrian rocks, 15, 18, 205 ; slate 

in, 25 
Campagna, Roman, 55 
Campbell, Áke, 59, 64, 93, 96, 142, 

capanna, 55-7 
Carboniferous limestone, 16, 20 ; 

as building stone at Tenby, 30 
Cefn stone, 34 ; used in University 

College, Bangor, 34 
cerrig mwsog, 207 
Chaucer, 126 
Chimneys, 156, 208-10 ; round, 

156 ; simple hole, 208 ; wattle- 

and-daub louvre, 209 ; thatched, 

209 ; straw ropes on, 209 ; use 

of cow-dung in, 209 ; brick on 

wattle, 210 
Churches, wooden, 175 ; wood- 

work in, 181 
Chwarelau, — see Çjuarella 
Clay used for floor-patterns, 197 
Climate of Wales, 11-13 
clochán,- — see Beehive huts 
Clom, 193 

Coalfìelds, 19-20, 30-2, 34 
Coal Measures, 20 
Cobb, 22, 192, 193 
CocMoft, — see Croglofft 
Coed-yr-allt rock, 35 
Columbaria, 53 
Collingwood, R. G., 137 
colofn, 131 

Commerce, medieval, 166 
Commons' Inclosure, Select Com- 

mittee on, 47 
Conglomerates, 15 
Conical huts, distribution of, 53 
Consolidation of farms, 99 
Constructional technique, 108 
Cooking methods, 95-6 
Corbelling, 49 
corf, 135 



Cornatun, 150-1 

Corndon stone, 150-1, 205 

Cottages, 98-128 ; one-roomed, 
100-2 ; two-roomed, 102-5 ; 
mud, 104 ; dairy in, 105, 108- 
11; croglofft, 107ff. ; distribu- 
tion oí c.roglofft form, 112ff. 

Countryside, desertion of, 99 

Couples, 149 

Cow-dung, 32, 194, 209 

Cow-hair, 32 

Cradock, J., 198 

Croft system, 98, 99 

croglofft, 107ff., — see also Cot- 
tages ; possible origin of , 111, 

Cruck construction, 24, 26, 118 
132, 134, 138, 141, 183-90 
distribution in Wales, 184 
antiquity of, 186 ; tradition of 
186-8 ; in Denbighshire, 188-9 
in Cardiganshire, 189 ; later 
development of, 189 ; end of, 
36 ; isitBritish, 189-90 

Cumberland, 62 

Cupboard beds, 103, 115, 117 

Cyfnerth, 130 

cymrwd clai, 196 

cyntedd, 81, 135 

cyplait, 149 

Dafydd ap Gwilym, 45, 46, 195 

Dafydd Nanmor, 130 

David,T. J.,204 

Davies, W. B., 207 

Defence Ministries in Wales, 7 

Deheubarth, 130 

deildy, 46 

Demetian Code, 98, 129 

Denbighshire moors, 18 

Denmark, 62 

Desertion of the countryside, 7 

Dinefwr, 130 

Distribution maps, 8 

Dock leaves for fìoor-patterns, 197 

Door-hurdle, 139 

Doors, 210-11 ; harr-hung, 210- 

11 ; hinged, 211 
Dressers, 103 
Dyfed, 129 

Edling, 135, 136 
Edwards, Sir O. M., 117 
Ellis, Sam, 118-9, 197 
Ellis, T. P.,98, 131, 134, 142 
Emigration, 3 
Erixon, S., 59, 190 

erwau, 98 

Evans, Hugh, 99, 102, 116, 212 

Evans, J. J., 158 

Evans, John, 101, 104, 146, 178, 

192, 194, 195, 196, 198, 202, 208, 

209, 210 

fforch, 132-4 
ffwrn, 95 

Finnmark Lapps, 93 

Fireback-stone, 142 

Fireplaces, 95-6 ; absence of, 128 

first, 59 

Flemish in Pembrokeshire, 156 ; 
their commerce, 166 

Fleure, H. J., 11 

Floors, 101, 104, 196-201 ; earth, 
101, 104, 196-8; patterns on 
197-8 ; rush-covered, 198 
sanded, 198 ; pitched, 198-200 
flagged, 200 ; Pennant flags for, 

Folk-builder, 154 

Fork, 132-4 

Fortunatus, 175 

Fox, Lady, 136, 147 

Fox, Sir Cyril, 7, 99, 107ft\, 147 

Freeman, 131 

Freestone, 15 

Furniture, used as partition, 103-4 

Gable, 133 

gaeafdy, 145 

gafael, 131, 132 

gafl, 133-4 

Galen, 62 

Gavelfork, 133 

Geology of Wales, 14-35 

Germany, 62 

Giffen, A. E. Van, 137 

Giraldus Cambrensis, 45, 100, 145, 

191, 198 
Glastonbury, 55, 191 
gradell, 95 
Grate, built-up, 95 
Grimes, W. F., 51 
Grits, 15 

Gronw Ddu o Fôn, 45 
Gruffydd, W. J., 94 
Guto'r Glyn, 131, 150 
Gwallter Mechain, 104, 203-4 
'Gwentian' Code, 98, 129, 130 
Gwynedd, 129 

hafdy, 145 
hafod, 25, 145ff. 



Half-timbering, origin of, 174 ; 
development of Teutonic tradi- 
tion, 175 ; possibly a Welsh 
fashion, 175 ; characteristics of, 
on Welsh border, 175-6 ; John 
Abel and, 181 

Hall, 126 ; king's, 131 

Hall and bower, 67, 126 

Harlech Dome, 18, 23 

Harr, 210-11 

Hatt, G., 93 

Hautes Alpes, 62 

Hearth, 142 

Heather for roofing, 26, — see also 

hendref, 145ff. 

Herbert of Chirbury, Lord, 178 

Herefordshire Plain, 28 

Highland Zone, 10 

Hob, 142 

Holland, 62 

'Homestead Group,' 39 

Howel Davi, 150 

Houses, — see also Cottages, hafod, 
hendref, Huts, Laws : autumn, 
131 ; boarded, 27, 182 ; central- 
chimney, 60, 118, 126-7 ; circu- 
lar, 135 ; clod, 26, 47, 101, 116 ; 
creel, in Scotland, 55 ; gable- 
chimney, 59ff., 127 ; Greek 
peasant's, 62 ; in co. Kerry, 91 ; 
'ink-bottle', 47-8, 58, 60 ; lath- 
and-mud, 27 ; long-house, 59- 
97, 139, (in Cumberland) 92, (on 
Isle of Lewis) 91 ; movable, 46 ; 
post-and-truss, 149 ; river- 
pebbles used in, 32 ; Romano- 
British, 137 ; Saterland, 62 ; 
Saxon, 63-4 ; stone, 154-72 ; 
stone and timber, 29 ; stue, in 
Scandinavia, 139 ; summer, 
131, 145; taeog's, 45; timber 
framed, 27, 30, 172-82, (in 
Europe) 172, (in Wales) 175, 
176-8 ; traditional Irish, 137ff.; 
whitewashing of, 33-4 ; York- 
shire, 62 

, in St. David's district, 

158-72; recesses in, 160; con- 
struction, 160-1, 164 ; similar 
chimneys in Somerset, 164-7 ; 
nave-and-aisle plan of, 168; pos- 
sible origin of, 167-72 

Hughes, H. Harold, 115-6, 183, 
186, 189, 193, 194, 206, 212 

Hunsbury, wattle dwellings at, 40 

Huts, circular, 37ff. ; walling of, 
40 ; internal arrangement, 43 ; 
raised shelf in, 43 ; under- 
ground channels in, 44 ; later 
history, 45 ; Irish, 54 ; conical, 
53, 58 ; Gaulish, 54 ; prehis- 
toric, in Finland, 56 

Hutton, W., 101, 124 

Hywel Dda, 129 

Igneous rocks, in building, 24 

immdai, 138, 168 

Innocent, C. F., 183, 186, 191, 192, 

Iolo Goch, 149 
is-gyntedd, 135 

Jones, E. D., 133 
Jones, S. R., 176 
Jones, Theophilus, 181 

Keltic tenures, 98 
Keuper Marl, 20 
King's court, 130 

Land holding, 98 

Laths, riven oak, 191 

Laws, Welsh, 44-5, 98, 129-53 
nine-chambered palace of, 45 
valuation of houses in, 131 
elements of the house in, 131-2 
fìre in, 142 ; three free timbers 
in, 186 

Ledgers, 204 

Leland, J., 174 ; description of 
Welsh border-towns, 174-5 

Lewis, Dr. E. A., 166 

Lewis, Dr. Henry, 81, 134 

Lhuyd, Edward, 146 

Lias, 15, 20 

Limestone, 15, 30, 33 

Lindisfarne, 174 

Lithology, 14-16, 18, 28 

llaesodren, 84 

Llandybie, building materials in, 

Llawdden, 67 

Lloyd, Sir J.E., 130, 135, 151, 188 

Lloyd, M. F. H., 199 

lluest, 145 

Llŷn, geology of, 21-2 

Llynfì Rock, 31 

Llywelyn ap y Moel, 45 

Loth, J.,46 

Mabinogion, 67, 130 
Machine Age, 1, 99 
mainc, 107, 168 

I N D E X 


Malkin, B. H., on Welsh pigsty, 49 
Manorial system, 98 
Martianus Capella, 81 
Mesozoic rocks, 33 
Meyer, Dr. Kuno, 148 
Millstone Grit, 15, 20 
Mona Complex, 16, 20 
Monroe, L., 188-9 
Moorland plateau of Wales, 18, 

Morris, William, 207, 214 
Mortar, 15, 32 ; — see also Caersws, 

cow-dung, cymrwd clai 
mos Scottorum , 174 
Moss, Fletcher, 178ff. 
Motte-and-bailey, 149 
Mud walling, 21, 22, 23, 26 ;— see 

also Walls 
Mudstones, 30 
Myddelton, Sir Richard, 176 

National Museum of W T ales, 8, 96 
Nave of tribal house, 137 
nenbren, 59, 132 
nenfforch, 132 
neuadd, neuodd, 81 
Normanized architecture, 151 
North, Dr. F. J., 14, 31 
North, H.L., 115-6, 186, 189, 193, 

194, 206, 212 
Norway, 62 
Nucleated villages, 100 

O'Curry, E., 54 

Old Red Sandstone area, 27-9 

O'Neil, B. H. St. J., 57 

Open-field system, 119 

Ordovician rocks, 15, 16, 18, 205 

Ó Riordáin, Dr. S. P., 137 

Outshuts, 168 

Ovens, 95 ; built-in, 95, 127 ; 

brick, 96 ; Tudor, 96 ; earthen- 

ware, 96 
Overcrowding, 107 
Owain Glyn Dŵr, 149 
Owen, Elias, 43, 146 
Owen, George, 166 

palatia, 81 
palis, 104, 114 
Parry, T.,46 
Parry, W. T., 187-8 
Partitions, 104ff., 212-3 
Payne, Ffransis G., 198 

Peate, D.,3, 96, 124, 191, 196,202, 
211, 212 

pebyll, 46 

Pembrokeshire, deserted houses in, 
7 ; geology of, 22 ; wealth of 
fortifications in, 154 ; churches 
adapted for defence in, 154 ; 
Flemish colony in, 156 ; trade 
with west of England, 167 

pen isaf, 65ff., 105 

pen itchaf, 65ff., 81 

penllawr, 65ff . 

Pennant, T., 145 

Pennant Sandstone, 20, 31 ; used 
in Roman times, 31 

pentanfaen, 142 

Penthouse, 131 

Phillips, C. W., 39 

Pigsty, circular, 49-53, 58 ; at 
Bedlinog, 50, 51 ; at Creigiau, 

50 ; at Llantwit Major, 49 ; at 
Llanover, 49-50 ; at Skewen, 

51 ; list of, 49 ; Irish and Scot- 
tish parallels, 50-1 

Pins, wooden, 193 

Pipe Rolls, 166 

Plaited rods, 46 

Poles, 139 

popvls, 196 

Ports of Glamorganshire, 167 ; 

baronial foundations, 167 
Post-and-truss, 149 
Powell, S. M., 78 
Pre-Cambrian Series, 15, 16, 18, 21 
Pryce, Thomas, 69, 200 
Purlins, 105, 140 

Çjuarella, 33 

'Rab', — see Mudstones 

Radyr Stone, 33 

Raised platform, 67, 94 

Reeds as wattle, 191 

Rees, Dr. William, 142 

retentacithim , 132ff. 

Rhodri Mawr, 129 

Rhys ap Maredudd, 131 

Rhŷs, Sir John, 136 

Richards, Robert, 46, 142, 175 

Richmond, I. A., 137ff. 

Ridge clods, 105 

Ridge-piece, ridge-pole, ridge-tree, 

roof-tree, 59, 138 
rishátor, 53 
Roberts, Rev. Gomer M., 119, 196 



Rods, 139 

Roofs, 101, 201-8 ; wattled, 101 ; 
thatched, 201-2 ; under-thatch 
of, 201-2 ; stone, 205-8 ; veget- 
able bedding for stone, 206-7 ; 
moss for, 207 ; ridge-tiles, 206 ; 
slate, 207 ; whitewashing of, 

Rope-thatch, 204-5 

Roussell, Aage, 91 ff. 

Rowlands, Evan, 90, 198 

Rushes for thatching, 202, 203-4 

St. David's Cathedral, stone-work 

in, 22 
Salesbury, W., 152 
Sandstone, 15, 19 ; fìssile, 15, 32, 

205 ; green, 29 ; Rhaetic, 33 
Sanitary laws, 2 
Sarnesfìeld, 181 
Scolp, 204 
Screen, slate, 115 
Seebohm, F., 134 
Shippon, 64 

Silurian rocks, 15, 18, 25, 27, 205 
Siôn Mechain, 131, 150 
Slabs on gables, 208 
Slate, 15,23, 194, 195,205 
Soot used on floors, 197 
Squatting, 46-7 
Statutes, Irish, 148 
Stenberger, M., 93 
Stratigraphy, 14, 28 
Straw, as wattle, 191 ; for thatch- 

ing, 203-4 
stritsular, 189 
Strzygowski, J., 174-5 
Sulhvan, W. K., 192 
Sutton Stone, 33 
Sweden, 62 

Tax, Window, 212 

Thatch, — see Roofs 

Thomas, Sir D. Lleufer, 8-9, 47, 

48, 106, 112, 116, 122, 123, 127 
Thomas, Dr. R. D., 119 
Tiles, 32 ; — see also Roofs ; 

Romano-British, 206 
Timber in building, 23-4, 35-6 
Timber-framed building, end of, 


tô brat, 207 

Topography of Wales, 10-1 1 
Traditions, convergence of, 167 
Transhumance, 145, 147 
Travellers in Wales, English, 9 
Tribal house, 129ff.; — see also 

Houses, Laws 
Tristan and Isolde, 148 
Trystan ac Esyllt, 46 
tv unnos, 47 
tyddyn, 98ff. 
tyle, 67, 94-5, 197 

itchelwr, 131 

Under-thatch, 140 ; — see also 
Roofs ; use of broom, heather, 
fern, etc, in, 32, 201 ; wattle, 

Venedotian Code, 98, 129 

Villa, Roman, 206 

Villeins, 130 ; nine buildings built 

by, 130, 151, 153 
Vitruvius, 62 
Vreim, H., 190 

Wade-Evans, A. W., 130, 142 
Walche fascion, 174 

Walls, 190-6 ;— see also Mud- 
walling ; wattled, 191-2 ; 
double-wattling in, 192 ; mud, 
192 ; turf or clod, 192 ; stone, 
193-4 ; slate, 194 ; dry-stone, 
105, 194-5 ; slate on, 195 

Walton, George, 24 

Ward, J., 137 

Warner, R., 105 

Wattle-and-daub, 46, 140, 191-2 

Wells in houses, 64, 148-9 

Welsh Port Boohs, 167 

Wiclíham, A. K., 181 

Wigstead, H., 117, 194 

Willans, J. B., 180 

Williams, Dr. Ifor, 81, 95, 134 

Williams, S. W., 139 

Windows, 211-12 ; wattled, 212 ; 
lattice, 212 ; fixed glass, 212 

Wintering, 145 

Woodland in Wales, 25 

Wyn Griffith, Ll., 113 


^onourable áèoctetp of Cpmmroborton 


Literatnre, Science, and Art as connected with Wales. 

FoUNDED 1751. 


Çrtsiîifnt : 
Tbe Right Honourable Lord Howard de Walden. 

©iff-Çrfsiùrnta ; 

His Grace The Archbishop of Wales, d.d. 

The Right Honourable The Earl of Plymouth. 

The Right Honourable The Earl of Lisburne. 

The Right Honourable Viscount Sankey. 

The Right Honourable Viscount Tredegar. 

The Right Honourable Lord Aberdare. 

The Right Honourable Lord Atkin of Aber- 

dovey, f.b.a. 
The Right Honourable Lord Boston. 
The Right Honourable Lord Clwyd. 
The Right Honourable Lord Davies of Llan- 

The Right Honourable Lord Dynevor. 
The Right Honourable Lord Harlech, g.c.m.g., 

D.C.L., F.S.A. 

The Right Honourable Lord Mostyn. 
The Right Rev. The Lord Bishop of St. Asaph. 
The Right Rev. The Lord Bishop of St. David's. 
The Right Rev. The Lord Bishop of Monmouth. 
The Right Rev. The Lord Bishop of Swansea 


The Right Rev. Dr. Watkin Williams {formerly 

Bishop of Bangor). 
The Right Honourable Sir John Eldon Bankes, 


D. Lloyd George. 

The Right Honourable 

O.M., M.P. 

Sir Robert Armstrong-Jones, m.d., f. 

J.P., D.L., F.S.A. 

Sir Ẅ. Goscombe John, r.a., ll.d. 
Sir Evan D. Jones, bart, ll.d. 

Sir J. E. LLOYD, F.B.A., D.LITT. 

Sir Edward Abbott Parry. 
Sir D. Lleufer Thomas, m.a., ll.d. 
Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, bart. 
Ben Davies, Esq., mus. doc. 


Pepyat W. Evans, Esq., b.c.l., m.a. 

Rev. J. D. JONES, C.H., M.A., D.D. 

ProfessorT. Gwynn Jones, cb.e., m.a. 

Rev. H. Elvet Lewis, m.a., d.d. 

Henry G. Ltwis, Esq., ll.d., j.p. 

T. E. Morris, Esq., m.a., ll.m., f.s.a., j.p. 

Edward Owen, Esq., m.a., f.s.a. 

J. Arthur Price, Esq., m.a. 

Ernest Rhys, Esq. 

Miss Myvanwy Rhys, m.a. 

R. Arthur Roberts, Esq., f.r.hist.s. 

Philip Williams, Esq., o.b.e. 

Professor Ifor Williams, f.b.a., m.a., d.i 

Rev. G. Hartwell Jones, m.a., d 

f.s.a. (Chairman). 
Dr. H. Idris Bell, cb., o.b.e., f.b.a. 
J. L. C. Cecil-Williams, m.a., ll.b. 

T. Huws Davies, o.b.e. 
d. owen evans, m.p. 
Ernest Evans, k.c, m.p. 
Principal Ifor L. Evans, m.a. 


Ll. Wyn Griffith (Hon. Editor). 

D. R. Hughes. 

Mrs. A. J. Hughes-Gripfiths. 

Edward James. 

Howell E. James, b.a. 

J. M. Jenkins. 


.D., D.LITT., 

, D.LITT. 

(Hon. Secre- 


T. D. Slingsby-Jenrins, j.p. (Hon. Treasurer). 


J. Charles Jones (Hon. Librarian). 
R. O. Jones. 


R. Hopkin Morris. 
Rev. D. S. Owen, b.a. 


T. H. Parry-Williams, m.a. 

Mrs. D. Rhys-Roberts. 

Robert Richards, B.A., M.P. 

D. Rowland Thomas, k.c. 

W. Jenkyn Thomas, m.a. 

Sir Wynn P. Wheldon, d.s.o., m.a., ll.b. 


ÿononiro îUtoitors: 
John M. Jenkins and R. O. Jones. 

gonorarg ^trrt targ : 
J. L. C Cecil-Williams, m.a., ll.b. 

The Society's Library is now at 

The Westminster City Library, St. Martin's Street, 
Leicester Square, London, W.C.2. 

The Society's publications may be obtained from 

The University of Wales Press Board, Cardiff, or from any bookseller. 

william lewis (printers) limited. 

DA y Cymmrodor